Local newspapers and websites are withering away. In small towns and communities across the country, the local paper is a thing of the past, leading citizens to no longer have a sense of what’s happening in their local government, schools or communities.
For decades local media flourished supported by local advertisements and classified ads. This model is no longer able to support viable enterprises. Yet the function of local journalism is more important than ever to give people a sense of their own communities.
We should recognize that local journalism has a vital public function and support its transition from independent for-profit businesses to non-profits supported by citizens, local institutions, philanthropy and the government.
I will initiate the Local Journalism Fund, a dedicated $1 billion Fund operated out of the FCC that will make grants to companies, non-profits and local governments and libraries to help local newspapers, periodicals and websites transition to sustainability in a new era.
Journalism is a vital function in any community. How can you be expected to vote on local leaders and issues if you don’t know what’s going on? This is a market failure, and it’s clear that this is a space that should transition to non-profits, libraries and public-private partnerships instead of for-profit enterprises in many communities. I’m confident that most small towns and cities will be able to support a local website or paper - we just need to support their transition to a new model that supplements advertising and subscription fees with local institutional and citizen support.
Problems to be Solved
- Local news organizations are disappearing because of a lack of financial return.
- Citizens have fewer and fewer ways to gain insight and perspective on what is happening in their local community, government or schools.
- Many communities are struggling to transition to new models of journalism.
- Public good
- Provide resources to ensure sustainable local press
- Support a transition to new models of support for local news sources
- Affirm local journalism as a public good
As President, I will…
- Invest in a Local Journalism Fund program that will make grants of between $25,000 and $250,000 to local media outlets, non-profits, libraries, governments and public-private partnerships to catalyze transitions to new models of support. In many cases, the grants will serve as ‘Matching Funds’ for other committed support to demonstrate viability. The Fund will be operated out of the FCC and will be divided evenly among states proportionally based on the population of each state.