News

The top media union in North America is launching a historic advocacy campaign in a desperate effort to gin up political support to help stave off the economic crunch on the news industry.

A bipartisan U.S. Senate proposal of Democrats Maria Cantwell, Amy Klobuchar, Chuck Schumer and Republicans John Boozman and Joni Ernst would provide news outlets emergency assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
A $3 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill unveiled Tuesday would make local newspapers and broadcast outlets eligible for small business loans to keep employees on the payroll, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
Congress is looking to help struggling local newspapers, TV and radio stations qualify for federal coronavirus aid, according to people familiar with the matter. The coming coronavirus legislation expected to be introduced in the House as soon as this week will include a provision to expand newspapers’ and broadcasters’ eligibility for forgivable small business loans, the people said.
This news story started as a local one before Smithfield (and meat processing plants everywhere) were known as hot spots for spreading the coronavirus. We only know about the story because of dedicated reporters at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Local news and information provide a first-warning system, but they are also a connective tissue,” says Tim Franklin, senior associate dean at Northwestern University’s Medill journalism school and head of the Medill Local News Initiative. “We’re in self-isolation and quarantine. The ability to have an entity that is looking at your neighbors and local officials and describing to you how they’re doing is vital to mental health, not just physical health.”

As the coronavirus crisis wreaked havoc in the news business last month, the newly installed president of the most prominent journalists’ union in the country, the NewsGuild, crossed a line that once seemed unimaginable: He asked the government for money.
It’s true that much of the local news industry had fallen on hard times well before covid-19. But the pandemic is inflicting new damage even as it underscores the crucial role of local newspapers. In this public health emergency, people turn to local media for answers to what The Post’s Margaret Sullivan called “life-or-death information” such as “Where to get tested?” and “Is it safe to go outside?”