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Schatz Leads Resolution Highlighting Importance Of Local News

Resolution Designates April as “Preserving and Protecting Local News Month,” Highlights Importance of Local News in Democracy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) led a group of 14 senators in introducing a resolution designating April 2024 as “Preserving and Protecting Local News Month.” The resolution recognizes local news as a public good that serves an essential function in American democracy.

“Americans rely on local news to stay informed about their communities and the country,” said Senator Schatz. “As the industry continues to face unprecedented challenges resulting in newsroom closures, layoffs, and budget cuts, it’s critical that we highlight and support the essential public service local news provides.”

Overall employment in newspaper, television, radio, and digital newsrooms in the United States fell by 26 percent, or 30,000 jobs, from 2008-2020. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, more than 360 local newsrooms have closed across the country. Schatz’s resolution affirms the significance of local news in increasing civic engagement and strengthening democratic norms and practices, and recognizes the invaluable contributions of local journalists in maintaining healthy and vibrant communities.

The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Vt.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

The resolution has been endorsed by PEN America, Common Cause, Public Knowledge, and Free Press Action.

“Throughout our nation’s history, local news has been a bulwark for holding power to account and advancing a pluralistic democracy that represents and includes all, irrespective of their background or status,” said Laura Schroeder, Congressional Affairs Lead at PEN America. “The erosion of local news threatens our system of checks and balances and starves communities of the information required for democratic citizenship. In an election year already ushering in alarming levels of information manipulation, local news is a crucial line of defense worth fortifying. PEN America lauds Senator Schatz’s resolution, which reaffirms local news’ indispensability to our democracy.”

Schatz has led efforts in the Senate to strengthen local news, previously introducing the Future of Local News Act, legislation that would create a committee to study the state of local journalism and offer recommendations to Congress on the actions it can take to best support local news organizations.

The full text of the resolution is available here.