The Writers Guild of America, East is applauding the unveiling of the Future of Local News Commission Act in the Senate, a bill that would explore how best to preserve high-quality local news, including on broadcast TV.
The act would create a commission to study how to make sure there are sources of reliable, useful information about everything from local business and supports to culture and public policy.
That comes as online aggregation and dissemination of news from traditional outlets threatens publishing business models.
"We are thankful to the bill's sponsors - Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) - for including digital-native, broadcast, and print newsrooms in this legislation. We hope the Senate adopts the bill so the commission can get to work as quickly and effectively as possible," said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson.
The 13-member commission will "examine the implications to America’s democracy if the public does not have access to local newspapers, digital native sites, and broadcasting outlets in every State and territory, and in rural, urban, suburban, insular, and Tribal communities, and those serving Black communities and non-English speaking communities."
“Families rely on local journalists to report on the stories that matter most to their communities. From the pandemic response to school boards to how tax dollars are spent, local news outlets provide essential information and perform an irreplaceable public service,” said Sen. Schatz. “Our bill will help strengthen local news and keep the industry afloat during this tough time.”
The commission would look at federal law and programs that support news production and whether there is a way for the government to help finance the production of "high-quality local news" while maintaining editorial integrity so they would not be subject to political or government control.
Backers of the bill include PEN America; Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers; Alliance for Community Media; National Writers Union; Society of Professional Journalists; Ethnic Media Services; Online News Association; Free Press Action; National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC); National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ); National Press Photographers Association (NPPA); Native American Journalists Association (NAJA); Society for News Design; Association of Alternative Newsmedia; American Journalism Project; Pulitzer Center; Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO; The NewsGuild – Communications Workers of America (TNG-CWA); and Colorado Media Project.
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