From the assistant editor
It’s been a hard couple of years for local news. Since 2005, over 2,220 newspapers in the U.S. have shuttered. About one-fifth of Americans live in a news desert, without reliable reporting on the issues that most affect their communities. And the erosion of local news has serious stakes for our democracy in the face of rampant disinformation and a turbulent presidential election ahead.
That’s why the Sept. 7 announcement that a coalition of over two dozen foundations were committing $500 million to local news offered a beacon of hope to many in the industry. The initiative, called Press Forward, will allocate the funds over five years, in addition to advocating for public policy that increases access to local reporting, investing in enabling technology, and more. For Nieman Reports, Jim Friedlich, CEO of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which is one of Press Forward’s funders, wrote about the multiplier effect the initiative could have: “If the Press Forward initiative tops out at $500 million, arguably we will have failed. But the energy, creativity, and spirit of Press Forward so far is almost certain to create a much larger movement.”
Half a billion dollars is a monumental amount of money, but Press Forward alone will be no panacea for local news, writes Lookout Local founder Ken Doctor. From hedge funds’ stronghold on newspapers to the role of state funding, Doctor’s Nieman Reports piece shares his nine truths for reviving local news and reminds us of the challenges still ahead for funders. “The $500 million-for-local-news campaign does rivet attention,” Doctor writes. “And that provides us all with the opportunity to assess where we are as 2024 approaches and Press Forward moves into high gear.”
We hope you take the time to read both pieces and let us know your thoughts.
Wishing you all the best,
Natalie De Rosa
Assistant Editor, Nieman Reports