U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and 12 colleagues in introducing a resolution that would designate April 2023 as “Preserving and Protecting Local News Month.” The resolution officially recognizes the role of local news as an essential function for democracy in the United States.
“In Virginia and across the country, local news outlets are relied on to keep our citizens informed, combat disinformation, and serve as a crucial check on our government institutions,” said Sen. Warner. “It is important that we continue to honor the hard work that local journalists do for our Commonwealth and for our democracy in the face of continued budget cuts, newsroom closures, and staff reductions that have made their work more challenging.”
According to research, the overall employment in newspaper, television, radio, and digital newsrooms in the United States fell by 26 percent, or 30,000 jobs, from 2008-2020. More than 100 local newsrooms were forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 30 percent of local television stations reporting budget cuts and staff reductions. As of September 2022, 42 local newspapers have closed or merged in Virginia alone, with significant staff cuts plaguing surviving papers. This resolution affirms the significance of local news in increasing civic engagement and strengthening democratic norms and practices, and acknowledges the valuable contributions of local journalism toward the maintenance of healthy and vibrant communities.
In addition to Sens. Warner and Schatz, the resolution is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The resolution has been endorsed by PEN America; Alliance for Community Media; Free Press Action; National Press Photographers Association (NPPA); Native American Journalists Association (NAJA); Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO; Ethnic Media Services; Society of Environmental Journalists; Society for News Design; Common Cause; Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO; National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); Native Public Media; Public Knowledge; Society of Professional Journalists; Theatre Communications Group; National Newspaper Association (NNA); National Writers Union (NWU); and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
Sen. Warner has long been an outspoken supporter of local news. In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Sen. Warner led colleagues in a push to include local journalism and media outlets in relief packages.
Full text of the resolution is available here.