No relief for news industry in surge of readers during pandemic

Journalists around the country have provided an essential service in the coronavirus pandemic by describing local conditions to their readers, among them, the urgency of the threat, how to get tested, the capability of the local hospital. The service may be short-lived, though, as ad revenues dropped by half in two weeks. (NiemanLab, March 27, 2020, by Ken Doctor)

Readership surged as the pandemic settled into the U.S., but there has been no corresponding upswing in ad profits, partly that retail, car dealerships and restaurants are curtailing business but also that advertisers do not want their products associated with the coronavirus. It’s now the time to establish nonprofit local and national public print and broadcast organizations funded with serious public money. (Wired, March 31, 2020, by Philip M. Napoli)

Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post, March 26, 2020, writes that some backers of journalists and the news media do not want federal funding but suggest that the government provide a stimulus of $500 million in public health ads. That would help until national and community foundations step up with special funds for the news. Over 200,000 newspapers closed down during the last 15 years creating news deserts. Others have cut staff to the point they are if little service. It is now more than ever the time to act to save the news industry.

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