Death of More Than 500 Media Workers Reminds Us of the Sacrifices They’ve Made for the Public Good
We learned in 2020 that journalists are frontline and essential workers. They have risked their health, and by extension their lives, to bring the news to the public, often delivering life-saving information to their communities to help keep everyone safe. And some paid the ultimate price. No industry or sector was spared in this pandemic, but we now know that at least 500 journalists have died from COVID-19. Some of these reporters got sick while on the job, others simply in the community; either way, we know that journalists put themselves in harm’s way to deliver the essential information they provided to readers ultimately saved lives.
Over the last year, the pandemic worsened the business environment for news outlets, which was already desperate because Google and Facebook have siphoned off billions in ad revenue that used to sustain local news. Yet, despite the many layoffs and pay cuts, journalists continued to do their best to make sure the right stories were told and ensured that everyone was equipped with the accurate information they rightfully deserved.
The following is a statement from Nick Charles, spokesperson for the Save Journalism Project:
“2020 was a terrible year, particularly for local media. The news industry suffered not only economic losses, but also the loss of hundreds of reporters’ lives. Reporters who risked their lives every day making sure that the public had the information it needed to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic. From coverage of the disastrous health and economic outcomes in the wake of COVID-19, protests for social and racial justice and against deadly police action and the hotly contested presidential election, journalists showed up for communities they cover; all while facing a global health emergency. While the past year was quite grim, there are signs of hope for 2021: the vaccine is already in distribution, a new economic relief package has been passed, and the incoming administration has already mentioned wanting to provide more economic help to the media. Moreover, antitrust enforcement actions have begun to tackle monopolistic powers in the online marketplace, which gives us hope that Big Tech’s dominance will soon be diminished, opening the door for a renewed robust and thriving news industry.”