The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that when we face our largest challenges, one of our greatest needs is access to reliable news and information. Representatives and Senators on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill have expressed support for the public service role that is being played by local newspapers and broadcasters in their districts and states. Last week, Members of Congress sent two separate letters that encouraged the Trump Administration to direct existing government advertising campaigns to local newspapers and broadcasters. The first letter, organized by Reps. Dingell (D-MI), Upton (R-MI), Flores (R-TX) and Veasey (D-TX), was signed by over 240 members of the House of Representatives. Lawmakers said in the letter, “To get America moving again and strengthen our communities in the midst of this evolving crisis, we must be creative and use all available tools. Advertising plays an incredible role in local economies, and its importance to the sustainability of local broadcast stations and newspapers cannot be overstated.”
The second letter, which was organized by Sens. Daines (R-MT), Manchin (D-WV), Barrasso (R-WY) and Peters (D-MI) generated 74 senators as signatories. The senators stated, “Local newspapers and broadcasters have been particularly hit hard financially due to decreased revenue typically derived from advertising sales. This comes at a time when they have increased coverage of daily news, alerts and educational programs. As congress and the administration continue to work to keep small businesses operating and employees on the payroll through the Paycheck Protection Program, we believe there is an opportunity for the federal government to provide relief to our local newspapers and broadcasters.”
The Alliance appreciates this support from Members of Congress representing communities across the country. Going forward, we will be encouraging our supporters in Congress to authorize and appropriate the necessary funds for a multibillion-dollar public advertising campaign in local newspapers and broadcast stations so that their constitutents can receive vital information around the government’s health and economic response during this crisis. Such a massive advertising campaign could also – at the appropriate time – include reliable and consistent messaging for individuals and businesses on what they can expect and do when their community “opens up” again in the months ahead. This kind of information can be rolled out locally through newspapers and broadcasters as local public health conditions dictate and can be easily implemented across local media in large, medium and small communities. We are encouraging newspapers to actively support our call for an enhanced government advertising campaign, as well as other relief measures, by contacting their Member of Congress and requesting that they do whatever they can to provide assistance to their local newspapers in the next economic stimulus package.