Support Local Newsrooms: “Essential Service” Hit Hard Amidst Coronavirus Crisis.

Across the U.S., many states and localities are ordering all non-essential businesses to close and workers to work from home. Media outlets and journalists, however, have been deemed an essential service and largely remain in operation, asking important questions of government and providing critical medical, economic and logistical information during this pandemic.  

At the same time, news publications have been hit hard, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Dropping paywalls and providing free coverage are just some of the ways newsrooms are stepping up, but at the loss of revenue to sustain their operations. Many local alternative weeklies have laid off employees and even shut down operations due to the lack of funding. The same is true for a number of west coast local newspapers resulting in news deserts during a critical time for news coverage.

While local news was already facing its own crisis before the pandemic, the unanticipated drop in advertisement revenue could mean “total annihilation” for local papers.

The following is a statement from Nick Charles, freelance reporter and editor and spokesperson for the Save Journalism Project:

If there are no local newspapers or online outlets left, who will be there to report on a crisis like this one and how it affects local communities? When you see a doctor, nurse, sanitation worker, grocer, first responder and others on the frontlines of this pandemic featured in the news – a reporter interviewed them; an editor made sure it was accurate; a photojournalist took their picture. Newsrooms are an essential service that are showing their true value during this crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a problem already afflicting news outlets, big tech’s exploitation of the news industry’s business model to pad their profits.

If companies like Google, Apple and Facebook won’t hold themselves accountable and stop siphoning off newsrooms’ livelihood, we the people must ensure the survival of the Fourth Estate. If you’re benefiting from free coverage during these times, donate to your local papers and news outlets. Support your local newsrooms so they survive to tell the stories that matter the most to you!

We cannot let loss of local news be another consequence of the pandemic.