Comedian Hasan Minhaj answers with wit and outrage on "Patriot Act." “With everything going on in the country right now, I think we can all agree: It’s been really hard to watch the news,” Minhaj begins. And he soon gets to, “There’s one area where [local news] is unmatched: exposing sex offenders.
Floridians rely on 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 with a recognition of the need for a robust and free press, and we must make sure it stays that way.
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.