News

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.
Now more than ever Americans rely upon the availability of local news reporting during times of crisis. It should be no surprise that, like all small businesses across our country, local news organizations are suffering the same economic uncertainty and challenges. Our country was founded on the need for a robust and free press.
Despite being honored, all three newspapers have had to cut pay, or lay off or furlough workers, since the pandemic started. Unlike the case with many other businesses that are suffering now, however, COVID-19 isn’t the source of these papers’ problems; it has simply accelerated the great disruption in the news business that began at least two decades ago.
Check out the #SaveTheNews hashtag on Twitter. This week local journalists are spotlighting the work that shows how essential they are, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. The hashtag is part of a new NewsGuild campaign to convince Congress to include relief $$$ for the news industry in the next Covid-19 stimulus package.