Journalists, Essential Workers, Need Stimulus Aid
News outlets are providing essential coverage of the coronavirus crisis, informing their communities with critical information that can save lives. But the pandemic has worsened a business environment for news outlets that was already desperate because Google and Facebook have siphoned off billions in ad revenue that used to sustain local news. As many as 33,000 journalists and staff at news outlets have been laid off, furloughed, or had their pay reduced since the start of the coronavirus crisis. But the fourth round of federal relief still does not provide direct assistance for news outlets, an industry that is essential to the functioning of our democracy.
We joined dozens of other advocacy organizations to call on Congress to include direct funding for news outlets in this latest package. Several industry groups made similar pleas to rescue the journalism industry. All went unheeded.
Newsrooms are providing free coverage on COVID-19, dropping subscription requirements so everyone has access to information on the virus. But ad revenues have also plummeted due to the declining economy and the dominance of the digital advertising marketplace by Google and other players. News outlets need financial help and they need it now.
Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter at HuffPost and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project, “With each new stimulus package passed to help Americans during this pandemic, the government continues to neglect the journalism industry. The fourth estate aims to protect our democracy, hold authority to account and provide the crucial coverage we all need in times of crisis. Now, more than ever we need a thriving and robust news industry, one that ensures accurate and quality reporting. Google and Facebook destroyed the business model for many news outlets. Now this pandemic threatens to wipe out local news. We repeat our call for Congress to include direct funding for news outlets in the next coronavirus relief package and make sure our news industry survives this pandemic, too.”