The Seattle Times is fighting for a local and independent free press through a new initiative, a new Save the Free Press website. To introduce the initiative, Brier Dudley, editor of the Seattle Times Free Press, wrote a Chronicle – November 12, 2021 in which he describes the many purposes of the website and how the average reader can help support a worthy cause.
“The Seattle Times is the oldest family-owned metropolitan daily in the United States. We remain true to our commitment to our public service mission, reinvesting and protecting our local heritage to preserve and perpetuate quality local journalism. Seattle Times’ Save the Free Press public service initiative seeks to secure a sustainable future for local and independent journalism; create momentum around industry reform; and to protect the free and independent local press which is so vital to democracy ”, says the Save the Free Press website.
To raise awareness
Raising awareness of the seriousness of the problem is one of the key goals of the Save the Free Press website. Dudley hopes the new initiative and website will bring attention to the journalism crisis and help advocate for long-term sustainability and short-term federal intervention. To do this, the site includes a range of reports, news, commentary and other information for educators and anyone else interested in learning more about the importance of a free press and why we we risk losing it.
Loss of local newspapers
For a multitude of reasons, many communities, especially those in small towns and rural areas, lost their local newspapers because they were not financially viable. This left news deserts Across the country. Dudley said newsrooms have shrunk by around 60% since 2008. The New York Times reports that there are now 200 US counties without newspapers and more than 2,100 newspapers have been closed since 2004. The Save the Free Press website shares reports and resources to highlight the problem, and it provides links to them. media and nonprofit organizations that fight to protect the free press.
The Seattle Times, owned by the Blethen family since 1896, remains a local subway newspaper, but it has seen its fair share of setbacks, layoffs and major moves.
“The Times, one of the few family subway dailies, explored new ways to fund journalism. Over the past decade, he has found success with a hybrid approach. The newsroom is now reinforced by teams of journalists and editors focused on issues such as education and mental health, supported by philanthropy, ”said Dudley.
Part of this hybrid approach has been to accept donations from Investigative Journalism Fund, a tax-deductible, community-supported program of The Times and the Seattle Foundation. To date, more than $ 1.8 million has been donated to help The Times build a great local investigative team.
“It’s about empowering powerful people and saving lives,” said Michele Matassa Flores, editor of the Seattle Times.
Advocacy for federal intervention
There has been support in Congress for federal intervention and incentives to help support local news organizations. These measures include tax credits to help retain and hire local journalists, reform and enforcement of antitrust laws, and end unfair competition from major tech platforms. Dudley said the tax credits would not give any particular media special treatment, nor be tied to specific stories in return for the tax credits.
One of these proposals – the Local Journalism Sustainability Act – was presented by Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) in July and is supported by Report for America, America’s Newspapers, National Newspaper Association, News Media Alliance and Rebuild Local News Coalition. It offered three types of tax credits to support local journalism over the next five years:
- Local newspaper subscribers would receive a five-year tax credit of up to $ 250 per year. The credit covers 80% of the subscription fee the first year and 50% the following four years.
- Local newspapers would receive a five-year tax credit of $ 25,000 in the first year and $ 15,000 over the following four years to hire journalists who work at least 100 hours per quarter covering local news.
- Qualifying small businesses would receive a five-year tax credit of up to $ 5,000 in the first year and up to $ 2,500 over the following four years to cover advertising costs (80% in the first year and up to 50% in years 2 to 5) on local TV and radio stations and newspapers.
“For many rural communities like ours in downtown Washington, local news is the only way to receive important information and updates. Unfortunately, many of our local newspapers are struggling to make ends meet, ”Rep. Newhouse said in a statement. Press release of June 16, 2021. “By offering tax credits to readers and small businesses and empowering our local journalists, we can begin to help our small newspapers remain resilient and continue to provide in-depth perspectives that keep their readers informed about local news.”
This law was not passed in the current legislative session, but one of the three provisions is included in the Build Back Better law now making its way through Congress. According to Poynter, the federal government would undersize half of newsroom salaries to $ 50,000 in the first year and 30% for the next four years. The New York Times reports that local media could receive up to $ 1.67 billion as a small part of the Build Back Better aid program, adopted by the house in November. The bill now goes to the Senate.
How people can support the cause
The Save the Free Press website offers four ways to support the cause:
- Sign up for a free weekly press newsletter
- Donate to the Investigative Journalism Fund
- Discover resources to protect the free press
- Share the website with others
- Contact the organization to find out more
- Subscribe to the Seattle Times or your local newspaper
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It will take an entire country to save journalism, but it will not disappear in whatever form it takes. We may continue to lose local media, see the frequency of print edits decrease, and see the number of pages of our local newspaper decrease, but the free press will never die. However, he needs everyone’s help to make sure that journalism is the best it can be. The establishment of a free press needs financial support, strong advocates and legislators to carry the cause. While this website can’t do all of the heavy lifting, it does make a brave effort to bring attention to the cause and provide easy ways for people to help. We applaud their efforts and hope that everyone who reads this article or visits their website will share it with their family and friends.