By Tonda Rush NNA General Counsel
National Newspaper Association Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, announced Wednesday that NNA has joined forces with the Rebuild the News Coalition to take on new federal policies to support local news.The coalition is spearheaded by Steve Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America, which has assisted numerous community newspapers with newsroom funding.
The coalition has worked informally since last spring to prod Congress to do more to ensure the sustainability of local journalism. Today’s announcement by the Rebuild coalition lays out a series of goals for the group, including to:
- Empower Americans, through their own choices, to financially help local media
- Grow nonprofit local media
- Strengthen commercial media by incentivizing local ownership and investment in local reporting
- Help create a local news system that better covers marginalized communities
- Support journalists who pursue careers in local public service journalism
- Safeguard editorial independence and nonpartisanship
Wesner said NNA and the coalition had already worked this summer to strengthen the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, HR 7640, which would provide tax credits for advertisers to use in local newspapers and for subscribers to claim for purchasing subscriptions.
“The concern about a Swiss-cheese of local media across the country and its consequences for reporting on local, state and national affairs is a recurring theme in our public discussions,” Wesner said. “We have lost newspapers and the larger newspapers that remain have slashed their newsroom budgets. Community newspapers are clearly struggling under the weight of recession, coronavirus and the blinding lights of Facebook and Twitter that divert people from real news. Congress has begun to pay attention to these problems, thankfully. NNA is joining this coalition to extend our reach and amplify our message.
“We are grateful to Waldman and our partners in the coalition. NNA is vigorously entering the field with its grassroots Congressional teams. We look forward to having some measurable progress to report as this year winds down and a new Congress gets unpacked next January. I’m inviting NNA members to join this fight. We need every voice.”
The Coalition’s announcement is here: