Last week, an updated report by Penny Muse Abernathy, a visiting professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University on the prevalence of news deserts (areas with limited access to news) found that the crisis is worsening, particularly in smaller towns. According to the report, we’ve lost one-quarter of our newspapers since 2005, with one-fifth of the U.S. population (70 million Americans) living in news deserts or areas that are susceptible to becoming news deserts. At the current rate, we are losing two newspapers per week, on average, and will have lost one-third of our newspapers by 2025.
“Two thousand counties in this country have no daily newspaper. That should have everyone extremely concerned,” said News/Media Alliance President & CEO David Chavern. “We rely on providers of quality journalism for important news and information about our communities, as well as to hold government officials and those in power to account. In news deserts, you’re more likely to experience increased misinformation and government corruption. We cannot afford to lose critical sources of local news at a time when we need them more than ever – now is the time to act.”
We need to enact legislation to help support and sustain these invaluable providers of local news. Specifically, the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) would allow news publishers to come together to collectively negotiate with the Big Tech platforms for compensation for use of their original content. This legislation would offer particular promise for small and local publishers who desperately need a collective voice.
The JCPA, which has been introduced in the House (H.R. 1735) by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), and in the Senate (S. 673) by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), will ensure reinvestment in journalism to provide local news coverage in communities across America. For more information, visit www.JCPABill.com.
Members of the News/Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.