“Local news is in a state of crisis,” said a letter written by a group of 19 Senators in a letter to Senate leadership.

The senators warn that the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – including plummeting advertising revenue – could decimate local and regional news outlets even as communities have become increasingly reliant on their reporting amidst the public health crisis. Already news outlets have laid off or furloughed staff, and some newspapers have reduced or eliminated print editions.

Vigilant First Responders

“Local journalists have proven themselves to be valiant first responders during this pandemic, exposing themselves to a dangerous virus in order to get the story to the people,” said PEN America’s Washington director, Thomas O. Melia. “They are ‘essential workers’ as many executive orders on staying at home at the state and local level have explicitly noted. The sector as a whole is suffering gravely as the nationwide shutdown has accelerated their loss of revenue. This is why we at PEN America support Senator Blumenthal’s initiative to urge Senate leaders to include specific targeted stimulus relief for local journalism at this critical time.”

The Extraordinary Value of Local News

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the extraordinary value of local news outlets, which have seen huge jumps in traffic since the beginning of March. Local news stories are now among the most viewed stories in the country – even as local media fight to survive the pandemic. Without funding from the next stimulus package, we may lose one of the most important sources of information we have to navigate through this crisis,” said Lisa Macpherson, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge.

The letter is embedded below.  You can also read it here.

SOURCE:  U.S. Senate News Release