Protecting Local News
The statistics are staggering. Since 2004, more than 1,800 city newspapers in the U.S. have collapsed and the number of reporters covering local news has decreased by 50 percent. In this divisive and hyper-partisan political landscape, local news outlets remain vital to holding our public officials accountable, exposing wrongdoing where it exists, and giving context and texture to local concerns that affect our communities.
On April 4, The Washington Post brought together journalists, advocates and digital innovators to examine the state of local news and efforts to revitalize and protect it.
The Growing Fight to Save Local News Across TV, Radio and Print
Over 70% of Americans cite local journalism as a highly trusted source of news, yet the industry remains replete with economic challenges-- from plummeting circulation numbers and competition with technology platforms to concerns about media company ownership structures. Three industry veterans discuss different approaches to revitalizing local journalism and why the fight is more important now than ever.
  • Apr 4
Gray TV Chief National Political Analyst Greta Van Susteren says she believe cable news could one day fade away because of its expense and reliance on enterprise reporting from local news outlets.
  • Apr 4
President and CEO of WURD Radio Sara Lomax-Reese says innovation is key when news outlets are looking to remain relevant in today’s climate.
  • Apr 4
While diversity in the newsroom is important, Sara Lomax-Reese said the topic of ownership and access to capital is often left out of the conversation. “We need to diversify newsrooms, but we also have to diversify ownership,’ she said.
  • Apr 4
San Francisco Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Audrey Cooper said she wants Facebook to stop what she views as disingenuous appreciation of local news calling their approach for dealing with difficult issues like Russia and white supremacy ‘intellectually lazy.’
  • Apr 4
Greta Van Susteren
Chief National Political Analyst, Gray TV
Greta Van Susteren is currently Chief National Political Analyst for Gray TV, with two additional shows with Gray in development. Gray TV has more than 145 stations nationwide – from Alaska to Hawaii to Iowa to Florida and in between. She is also the anchor of Voice of America weekly television program “Plugged In” about foreign policy which airs worldwide and is translated into many languages (eg Farsi and broadcast in Iran.) She is a former anchor at CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
Sara Lomax-Reese
President and CEO, WURD Radio
Sara Lomax-Reese is the President and CEO of WURD Radio, LLC, Pennsylvania’s only African-American owned talk radio station. She is credited with transforming WURD Radio from a legacy talk radio station to a multi-media communications company providing cutting edge, original programming on air, online and through community events. In 2017, Sara led the expansion of 900AM-WURD to the FM dial, now simulcasting on both 900AM and 96.1FM. Last Fall, Sara spearheaded the launch of a new environmental justice journalism project called ecoWURD as part of the Civil digital platform.
Audrey Cooper
Editor-in-Chief, San Francisco Chronicle
Audrey Cooper is the editor in chief of the San Francisco Chronicle, the first woman to fill the role in the company’s 154-year history and the youngest woman in U.S. history to run a major metro newspaper. Every year since she was named editor, The Chronicle has been named the best large newspaper in California by the state’s leading news association. And under her leadership, The Chronicle has won nearly every major national journalism prize as well as more than a dozen Emmy awards.
Moderated by Jonathan Capehart
Opinion Columnist, The Washington Post
View From The Hill: Bipartisan Efforts to Protect Local News
Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are joining forces to protect local news as the digital space becomes increasingly dominated by social media platforms. Two members of the House Judiciary Committee discuss their legislative solution to saving local journalism as publications compete for audiences and ad dollars against platforms that provide free, often repurposed, information to communities across the country.
  • Apr 4
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) discuss their new bill - The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act -- which aims to help protect local news. The congressmen explained how the bill works and what they hope it will do for the local news industry.
  • Apr 4
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) recently wrote a letter to the FTC, asking regulators to investigate whether Facebook has broken antitrust laws. He says that because internet companies like Facebook hold such a large market share, lawmakers must determine whether our antitrust statutes need to be updated to ensure competition.
  • Apr 4
When asked what the Democrats will do to get the full Mueller report, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said they are prepared to do whatever it takes because ‘the American people deserve to know the truth,’ but Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) questions the tactics the Democratic Party has used.
  • Apr 4
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI)
Chairman, U.S. House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law
Congressman David N. Cicilline serves Rhode Island’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cicilline is a member of the House Democratic Leadership as Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC). He is also a leader in Congress on issues of core American values, serving as Chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. As the Chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, Cicilline oversees an expansive portfolio of ensuring access to affordable health care, keeping the courts open to consumers and workers, promoting innovation and economic opportunity through open and competitive markets, keeping the internet open and free through strong net neutrality rules, promoting access to high-speed broadband internet, and holding the Trump administration accountable through oversight.
Rep. Doug Collins, (R-GA)
Ranking Member, U.S. House Judiciary Committee
A native of Gainesville, Georgia, Congressman Doug Collins saw public service modeled by his father, a Georgia State Trooper, and mother, who provided care to local senior citizens. In the 116th Congress, Doug serves as Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. In this role, Doug leads his Republican colleagues on a wide breadth of issues within the Committee’s purview, which include fighting to uphold and safeguard the Second Amendment, protecting the lives of unborn children, defending religious liberty, and overseeing our law enforcement agencies.
Moderated by Jonathan Capehart
Opinion Columnist, The Washington Post
Accelerating Your Local News Feed: The Facebook Journalism Project
“News deserts” are cropping up all over the country as traditional publications continue to suffer the collapse of the print business model and the takeover of digital advertising by social media giants and other internet companies. Facebook executive Anne Kornblut discusses how the company’s recent investment in local news initiatives is meant to help remedy the losses outlets have suffered and ensure that interactions on the social platform are as meaningful as possible.
  • Apr 4
Facebook’s Director of New Initiatives, News Partnerships Anne Kornblut says the platform is focused on helping publishers figure out a business model for the future. “It is important to Facebook. Facebook’s core mission is community and building community, and local news is one of the most important ways you can build community,’ she said.
  • Apr 4
With several federal and state investigations underway, many prompted by the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Facebook’s Director of New Initiatives, News Partnerships Anne Kornblut says there are many things the company should have done differently. But she insisted that those who work for the company are committed to making it right.
  • Apr 4
Anne Kornblut
Director of New Initiatives, News Partnerships, Facebook
Anne Kornblut is the Director of New Initiatives on the News Partnerships team at Facebook where she leads development of new strategies for news organizations across the Facebook family of apps. Before joining Facebook in 2015, she spent nearly two decades in the news industry, including at the New York Times and the Boston Globe, and most recently as a senior editor at the Washington Post, where she won the Pulitzer Prize for overseeing coverage of Edward Snowden in 2013. She currently serves on the boards of three news non-profits.
Interviewed by Sarah Ellison
Media Reporter, The Washington Post
Non-Profit Disruptors: Examining Innovative Journalism Models
Is there a local news business model that can survive in the internet age? We’ll hear from leaders of nonprofit journalism ventures who will examine the opportunities and challenges inherent to supplying, supporting and financing essential local news coverage.
  • Apr 4
Editor and founder of The Nevada Independent Jon Ralston says he founded nonprofit news and opinion website to help fill a gap he saw in his community. “Democracy is so dependent on robust journalism,’ he said.
  • Apr 4
ProPublica Illinois’ Louise Kiernan says collaboration is key in advancing the mission of local news. “Collaboration allows us to bring different resources and strengths to bear on a story, and it enables us to reach broader and more diverse audiences,’ she said.
  • Apr 4
Despite the issues facing local journalism, The Nevada Independent Editor and Founder Jon Ralston, ProPublica Illinois Editor-in-Chief Louise Kiernan and The Texas Tribune Founder John Thornton share their hopes for the future.
  • Apr 4
Jon Ralston
Editor and Founder, The Nevada Independent
Jon Ralston has been covering politics in Nevada for more than 30 years. His blog, Ralston Reports, was founded in 2012 and now lives on The Nevada Independent website. He wrote for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 15 years, the last seven as a freelance columnist. In 1999, Greenspun Media Group purchased his political newsletter, The Ralston Report, and hired him as a columnist for the Las Vegas Sun where his byline appeared until September 2012. He was also a columnist for the Reno Gazette-Journal from January 2015 until November 2016, when he left to start The Indy.
Louise Kiernan
Editor-in-Chief, ProPublica Illinois
Louise Kiernan is editor-in-chief of ProPublica Illinois, the first regional operation of ProPublica. She comes to ProPublica from Northwestern University, where she was an associate professor of journalism, focusing on investigative and narrative reporting, and the leader of the program’s social justice and investigative journalism specialization. Prior to that, she worked for the Chicago Tribune for 18 years, serving as the newspaper’s enterprise editor, writing coach, urban affairs team editor and a special projects team editor and reporter, among other roles.
John Thornton
Co-Founder, The American Journalism Project; Founder, The Texas Tribune
John Thornton has been a venture capitalist at Austin Ventures since 1990, where he has co-led the technology practice for more than two decades. He also co-founded venture capital firm Elsewhere Partners in 2017. In 2008, John founded the Texas Tribune, the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Moderated by Eugene Scott
Political Reporter for The Fix, The Washington Post
Meet The Reporters: The New Wave of Investigative Journalism
Local journalists continue to break news and expertly report some of the most important stories of our time. A diverse panel of award-winning investigative reporters discuss the challenges they face chasing down original stories with limited resources and examine questions about the survival of local investigative and enterprise reporting in the digital age.
  • Apr 4
Investigative reporters Andrew Chavez, Julie K. Brown and Sacha Pfeiffer explain the work of an investigative journalist can be laborious and time-consuming, but it’s worth it to bring important stories to the public. ‘That’s the reality of this work. Time consuming, sometimes tedious, but [there is] a big pay off in the end,” Pfeiffer said.
  • Apr 4
Seventy-one percent of Americans think local news outlets are financially healthy, but that’s far from true. Miami Herald Investigative Reporter Julie K. Brown said she’s hopeful non-profits and other organizations will help fill the gaps created by vanishing local newspapers.
  • Apr 4
Andrew Chavez
Senior Computational Journalist, The Dallas Morning News
Andrew Chavez is a journalist and Web developer at The Dallas Morning News. Before joining The News in January 2016, Andrew was a news applications developer at the Austin American-Statesman. At the Statesman, he built interactive and special presentations for stories, assisted reporters with data-heavy reporting projects and was the developer for the Statesman's Longhorns sports website, Hook'Em.com. Prior to joining the Statesman in September 2014, Andrew was the director of digital media at the TCU School of Journalism.
Julie K. Brown
Investigative Reporter, Miami Herald
Julie K. Brown is an investigative reporter with the Miami Herald. During her 25-year career, she has worked as a general assignment reporter, crime and courts reporter, education reporter, night city editor, enterprise editor and as a member of the Herald’s Investigative Team. She has won numerous journalism awards, including two George Polk Awards, one this year for her investigation into a secret plea deal cut by U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta while he was a federal prosecutor in Miami.
Sacha Pfeiffer
Correspondent, NPR Investigations Team
Sacha Pfeiffer is a correspondent for NPR's Investigations team and an occasional guest host for some of NPR's national shows. Pfeiffer came to NPR from The Boston Globe's investigative Spotlight team, whose stories on the Catholic Church's cover-up of clergy sex abuse won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, among other honors. That reporting is the subject of the movie Spotlight, which won the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture. Pfeiffer was also a senior reporter and host of All Things Considered and Radio Boston at WBUR in Boston, where she won a national 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award for broadcast reporting.
Moderated by Margaret Sullivan
Media Columnist, The Washington Post
Content From The Knight Foundation
Jennifer Preston, Vice President for Journalism for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, gives opening remarks.
  • Apr 4
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