There’s a hunger for accurate and useful news coverage right now — even more so than usual — because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic and because we’re now only a few months away from a conse

Hedge fund ownership of newspaper groups typically spells doom for the newsrooms.

New rounds of newsroom layoffs are turning others into weak and woefully incomplete stewards of local journalism. With no witnesses, reports of corruption and incompetence in powerful institutions will go down, as corruption and incompetence in powerful institutions actually increases. No one will be watching.
In many places, it started with a cut in print days. Furloughs. Layoffs. Just to get through the crisis, newsroom leaders told readers. In some places, none of it was enough. Now, small newsrooms around the country, often more than 100 years old, often the only news source in those places, are closing under the weight of the coronavirus. Some report they’re merging with nearby publications.
Journalists, especially those covering local news, are essential workers who deserve our support, including their inclusion in future economic recovery bills now being considered by Congress. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic collapse have devastated America’s already crippled local news industry, which has traditionally relied on advertising to survive.
The media industry is at another inflection point. In the way the Me Too movement reshaped newsrooms, sparked debate, and purged bad actors from positions of authority, the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing about a similar upheaval by putting questions about race and reporting on the center stage.
The union representing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporters demanded on Monday that management rescind their ban on two black journalists covering protests over the death of George Floyd. The situation began to unfold a week ago, according to Michael Fuoco, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents most newsroom employees at the paper.
A thirst for information about the coronavirus and spreading social unrest means demand for news has been booming. But the catastrophic effects of the virus on the US economy have hammered the newspaper industry, leading to dramatic declines in advertising revenue as well as layoffs, furloughs and other economic distress.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, furloughs, layoffs and closures took local journalists in the U.S. away from the critical work they provide. Add to those losses the 56% of newspaper jobs lost in the past decade, according to Pew Research.
Local news publications have been hard hit by financial pressure stemming from the pandemic, with many operating newsrooms gutted by layoffs and furloughs. Now, local journalists are juggling coverage of twin crises — the pandemic and the protests roiling the country — with even fewer resources.
“I was disturbed to see blatant attacks on our press freedom over the weekend. From Fox News to MSNBC, from Minneapolis to Louisville, journalists were among those singled out for simply doing their job — covering protests following the death of George Floyd. Attacks against members of the press, violence against black communities and brutality against peaceful protesters have no place in our democracy,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss.