The New York Times marketing team launched a campaign online on Friday encouraging people to support their local newsrooms. The campaign, ahead of World Press Freedom day on Sunday, combines the members of several organizations of for- and nonprofit local newsrooms around the country and asks people to search for newsrooms near them.
“Local journalism is in crisis and at risk of disappearing. These vital resources are critical to the safety, security and knowledge of our communities, never more so than in these difficult times. On World Press Freedom Day and every day, we encourage you to find a local news organization you trust and support it.”
“This is a wonderful gesture by the New York Times in support of local news,” said Sue Cross, executive director of the Institute for Nonprofit News, via email. “We hope it helps national news readers connect with local journalists. And it’s a great reminder on World Press Freedom Day that it is local journalists who connect us to our communities, as well as to the world.”
Local journalism, newspapers in particular, have been in crisis for years, shedding journalists, merging under larger corporations or hedge funds, and, in some cases, closing altogether. The coronavirus’ impact on the economy has hurt newsrooms of all mediums and sizes, causing further pay cuts, furloughs, layoffs and closures. Gannett, which merged with GateHouse last year to become the largest newspaper owner in the U.S., executed layoffs around the country this week. We don’t yet have a full picture of how many.
Several campaigns are working now to build support for local newsrooms, including Local Media Association’s Local News Fund. So far, it’s raised $800,000 from more than 9,000 people. Next Tuesday, May 5, marks Giving Tuesday Now, a global fundraising campaign. Poynter gathered these resources to help newsrooms make their best case for support.
I asked Chris Krewson, executive director of LION, if he’d seen anything like what The New York Times built that combines the member lists of so many groups that work with local news. He had not, he said in an email, but LION’s Project Oasis aims to track most digital outlets in North America.
“I’m so thrilled that the Times has decided to spotlight our members.”
ProPublica is another national newsroom that’s working with local news, in this case hiring and paying them with local newsroom partners, through the Local Reporting Network.
I asked Krewson and Cross what else they’d like to see from national newsrooms right now.
“The recognition that a lot of hard work is done at the level of those members,” he said, “who are a crucial part of the local news ecosystem.”
“We’d love to see all national news organizations make it a campaign to credit generously for local news tips, and link people to local news providers whenever they pick up or re-report a local news story,” Cross added. “Increasingly, we see national journalists partnering with local reporters to cover regional stories with the kind of authenticity and understanding that can only come from within the community.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comment from Sue Cross.
Kristen Hare covers the transformation of local news for Poynter.org and writes a weekly newsletter on the transformation of local news. You can subscribe here. Kristen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare.