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Free Expression

CDT Joins Open Letter Calling on Congress to Support Local News in Next Coronavirus Stimulus

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our concern over the disappearance of local news and information in communities around the country — an ongoing decline that the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have accelerated. As you consider further economic stimulus legislation to help the country at this precarious moment, we urge you to include targeted assistance to local journalism, just as you have with other industries deemed essential to our nation’s health, prosperity and recovery.

Local news outlets, ranging from state- to city- and community-level media organizations, are necessary partners in meeting the critical information needs of people in the United States — especially during today’s public health and economic crises. In fact, many state and local governments have now recognized, in executive orders relating to shutdowns, that local journalism is an “ essential service .”

Community-specific news has never been more important to ensuring people’s well-being, yet many outlets will not survive COVID-19 without immediate economic help. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, local news outlets have been providing indispensable, real-time updates on information imperative to safeguarding America’s communities. Fact-based reporting on local “shelter-in-place” orders, business closures, testing sites, school policies, government aid and health services are just a few of the areas in which national media coverage cannot replace community reporting. For example, some local outlets have shifted coverage to fill the language gap on COVID-19 information after being flooded with questions indicating that information on the pandemic was not being effectively communicated to immigrant communities.