Keeping Local News Alive
Citing the loss of newspapers – and the jobs that disappeared with them – U.S. lawmakers last month introduced a bill to help preserve local journalism.
In introducing the measure, the lawmakers pointed out that since 2004, 1,800 local papers have been closed or merged, resulting in a 45 percent decrease of reporters and editors in the industry. The Bay Area reflected the national trend, going from 1,500 journalists at its high point down to less than 300 journalists to serve roughly seven million people.
Importantly, they noted that local journalism plays a vital role in promoting good governance, accountability and community.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, launched by U.S. Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD), would allow local news outlets to negotiate collectively with large online platforms, including Facebook and Google.
“Local news faces an uphill battle,” DeSaulnier said. “Papers are being bought up by hedge funds and the focus has had to shift from quality local content to profit maximization to save the news organizations we have left. In this digital world, where content is being shared for free on social media while the platform makes a profit, it’s only fair to let news organizations share in ad revenues.”
On a much smaller scale, our little paper has the same challenges as papers around the country. We have reporters, editors, graphic and web designers and advertising representatives. We typically have a 20-page paper, and each month we print 9,000 copies which are delivered via U.S. mail as well as distributed around town.
This all costs money. Even though The Orinda News is a service of The Orinda Association, the newspaper is expected to pay for itself. And it does through ad revenue. Yet, it could not survive without the backing of the Association and its supporters. In fact, some supporters in the past have designated their donation specifically for the newspaper.
We value this commitment and watch the bottom line very carefully because the Association has other important programs it funds with donations it receives. They include the Volunteer Center, Seniors Around Town and the 4th of July Parade.
So when our advertising representatives knock on your door, there’s a reason for it: To keep The Orinda News, your community resource, alive and independent.