Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Relief Needed to Support Local Journalism, Senators Say

April 8, 2020, 1:35 PM HST
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A group of Democratic senators is calling for funding to support local journalism in future COVID-19.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono joined 18 other senators in authoring a letter to Senate leadership on the issue. The letter cautions of the already widespread devastation of the coronavirus pandemic on local and regional news outlets, which are experiencing sinking advertising revenue while public demand and reliance on local reporting are increasing during the pandemic.

Across the country, local and regional news outlets have furloughed or laid off staff. Some newspapers have also made cuts or stopped print editions.

“Local news is in a state of crisis that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter stated. “For over a decade, there has been a steady succession of local outlets closing down, reporters being laid off, production schedules cut, and resources tightened as the growth of social media and technology platforms has concentrated critical advertising revenue in the hands of a few.”

“The current public health crisis has made the already vital role of local news even more critical,” the letter continued. “Some of the most important guidance for families and businesses during this crisis has been highly localized. Local journalism has been providing communities answers to critical questions, including information on where to get locally tested, hospital capacity, road closures, essential business hours of operation, and shelter-in-place orders. During this unprecedented public health crisis, people need to have access to their trusted local news outlets for this reliable and sometimes life-saving information.”

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