There can be no doubt that local newspapers have been significantly impacted over the last two decades by the ascent of the Internet. And, as we have written before (see, for instance, our article here), digital media has also had a significant impact on the local revenues of broadcasters, who also have traditionally specialized in covering local events. To study the effect of the decline in local news sources, legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to create a government committee to look at various aspects of this issue. The “Future of Local News Committee” would include individuals appointed by the majority and minority in the House and Senate, as well as individuals selected by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and the US Agency for Global Media. Each appointee is to be someone experienced in some aspect of local media. The committee would have one year to deliver a report to Congress.
What would they study? The legislation suggests that the committee would have broad investigatory powers to review how the change in local media has affected local communities. The bill’s preface includes language stating that over 2000 newspapers have gone out of business since 2004, and that of the 6,700 remaining, 1000 could be classified as “ghost newspapers” whose staffs have been so reduced that they cannot effectively cover local events. The bill also cites a Pew Research study that shows that local newsroom employees at newspapers, broadcast outlets and digital sources dropped 25% from 2008-2018. Perhaps most startling is the statement that newspapers alone lost more than $35,000,000,000 in revenue between 2004 and 2018. All these factors, and many others cited in the bill, are alleged to show that local media can no longer effectively cover local events.
Continue Reading Does Local News Need Government Assistance to Survive – Legislation Proposed to Set Up Commission to Study the Impact of Changes in Local Media on Local Communities