Newsletter: Local News Is Risking it All on The Frontlines of COVID-19

America’s health care workers and other first responders are on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic. Journalists are often there too, telling their stories, reporting on the spread of the virus, and providing critical information to communities across the country on actions taken by public health officials to mitigate its impact. News outlets frequently have been categorized as an essential service, and remain in operation even when other businesses are ordered closed. Many publications have dropped subscription requirements on their coronavirus coverage and are providing it free of charge as a public service.

Even though newsrooms are stepping up to meet the demands of this crisis, the business model for the industry was already in crisis due to the tech giants’ siphoning off all the ad revenue. And as local businesses do close to help stop the spread, the primary source of advertisers for local news outlets stop buying ad space. In light of this uncertainty, we have provided a roundup of journalism’s ups and down amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s Not All Gloom and Doom

Check out our coverage on newsrooms working around the clock to deliver information to their communities during this crisis.

Newsrooms Hit Hard Amidst Coronavirus Crisis

  • BuzzFeed is beginning pay reductions for staff through May to maintain its newsroom. 
  • At Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms and helps pay up to half of their salaries, finances are cratering to the point that they’re not sure they can afford even their half of a reporter’s salary. 
  • In Pittsburgh, Tribune Total Media combined its two print editions into one and laid off much of its staff. The Pittsburgh Catholic, a 175-year-old daily newspaper, ceased publication and terminated all employees
  • In DC, Washingtonian magazine laid off all of its fellows and instituted a 10 percent pay cut for staffers making above 40,000. 
  • The Portland Mercury in Oregon and The Stranger in Seattle both suspended their print editions and laid off dozens of staffers. 
  • In the southwest, three sister papers – Sacramento News & Review, Chico News & Review, and the Reno News & Review – laid off nearly all staff and suspended print publishing. 
  • Voice Media Group, which runs newspapers in Phoenix, Denver, Houston and Miami, is asking for donations and cutting staff salaries by 25 percent, 35 percent for executives. 
  • Riverfront Times in St. Louis, MO, laid off “nearly the entire staff.”
  • The Oklahoma Gazette, Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express, The Pulse in Chattanooga, Tenn., and City Pulse in Lansing, Mich., have all suspended print publications
  • The Austin Chronicle has cut from weekly to biweekly in print after taking a major hit from the cancellation of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. 
  • Isthmus, in Madison, Wisc. has ceased publication entirely.
  • Valley News, a West Lebanon, NH, newspaper is reducing expenses with layoffs and a reduction in hours for some employees.  

Check out our coverage on how newsrooms have been hit hard during this crisis.

And we aren’t alone in this cause: Poynter provides a roundup on the transformation of local news and how we can all contribute to save journalism.