News

The front page of Kansas City’s Northeast News was left blank earlier this week in an effort to show readers what it would be like if the publication ceased to exist — and, as it turns out, the strategy proved quite effective.

On Wednesday, the editors of the paper that serves Northeast Kansas City made a bold decision to get readers’ attention in an effort to garner more support.

A committee of the Connecticut state legislature heard compelling testimony March 18 about the value of The Hartford Courant to the local community and the threat that Alden Global Capital poses to it. “The hedge funds and private equity [newspaper] owners lack an appreciation for journalism’s traditional civic mission,” testified Penny Abernathy, a professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. “They view their newspapers as investments to be bought, sold, traded or shuttered.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the subcommittee, introduced legislation Wednesday that would allow news publishers and broadcasters to bargain as a group with Google and Facebook for linking to their content. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, or JPCA, also would give a four-year exemption from antitrust rules so news organizations large and small can work together. Schleuss said he supports the new bill but would like to see more news worker job protections. “Google and Facebook benefit from the stories produced by journalists and they use the traffic they get to sell ads, capturing a majority of the digital ad revenue,” Schleuss said. “The companies should pay their fair share when benefiting from the sharing of news content.”
NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss told a House subcommittee on Friday that local news is facing “an extinction-level” threat that jeopardizes American democracy. Read his oral testimony.

NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss will tell a House subcommittee on Friday that local news is facing “an extinction-level” threat that jeopardizes American democracy.

In his planned testimony, he will urge the committee to adopt legislation to stop the unprecedented, dangerous decline.

“The crisis in local news is a crisis of jobs and of communities not getting the information they need,” Schleuss will say. “It is a crisis of democracy.”

Philippou, the Courant reporter, said an ideal owner for the Connecticut paper would be someone who wants to "hire staff, invest in the newsroom. People always talk about how the newspaper model is broken. I would hope for an owner who is willing to experiment."
"I really feel that both elected officials and appointed bodies failed to adequately or effectively communicate with the public in what was truly a natural disaster. Thank God for The Texas Tribune and other local media which filled the gap," Ramshaw said. "The reason we knew even a fraction of what we knew was because of them, not because of the people who are elected and appointed to inform us."
Local reporters — who tend to be relatively well-trusted — are especially important in this effort, providing basic information, and pointing readers or viewers to credible public-health sources. Sadly, there are far fewer of these reporters than when the pandemic began.