Local newsrooms hurt by the shutdown of the economy and its impact on advertising might get some relief from a new ad campaign in support of local news.
“Support Local News,” from the Google News Initiative, Local Media Consortium and Local Media Association will spend $15 million in ads in local newspapers, their sites, radio, TV and online-only newsrooms in North America for the next six weeks.
“This is a significant moment for the local media industry,” said Nancy Lane, CEO of LMA, in a press release. “People may not understand why they need to support local news organizations with digital subscriptions, donations, memberships and advertising if applicable. This $15 million ad campaign will help us change the conversation.”
Google did not say how much each newsroom was getting. But let’s say there are 3,000 of them and they’re each getting an equal amount, that’s about $5,000 each.
That’s likely not enough to prevent layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts or to save a newsroom on the brink of closing. But it does set an example for brands and advertisers to invest directly into local news, Fran Wills, CEO of LMC, told Poynter.
And that awareness, particularly when people are counting on local news during the pandemic, sure needs some help.
In March 2019, a study from Pew Research found 71% of respondents thought their local newsrooms were financially healthy, but just 14% had paid for local news in the last year.
The campaign itself also calls on people to subscribe and donate to their local newsrooms. Last month, LMF’s COVID-19 Local News Fund passed its $1 million fundraising goal, with donations going to more than 230 local newsrooms.
Many other ideas exist that could help local news right now, including “replanting” newsrooms owned by hedge funds into local ownership or nonprofit status, government funding and a tax on big tech platforms, including Google, which benefit directly from local news.
Newsrooms getting the Google ad buy include major metros such as the Dallas Morning News, The (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune, the Tampa Bay Times (which Poynter owns,) and the Los Angeles Times, as well as local radio, digital, TV and Spanish language newspapers including La Raza in Chicago, Mundo Hispánico in Atlanta and Hola News in Charlotte.
“At a time when communities need local media more than ever, we are launching this campaign to fuel long-term, sustainable revenue models for news,” Wills said in the press release.
Kristen Hare covers the business and people of local news for Poynter.org and is the editor of Locally. You can subscribe to her weekly newsletter here. Kristen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare.