Local Newspaper Support Bill Dies In Richmond, VA
A local journalism support bill introduced in the Virginia State Legislature this session by State Del. Alfonso Lopez has died. HB 1217 would have provided up to $5 million annually in income tax credits to news organizations that employ local journalists and up to $10 million annually in income tax credits to businesses that advertise with these outlets.
The Lopez bill died by failing to pass out of a finance subcommittee meeting, with six Republicans voting against and three Democrats voting for. Lopez says he will continue pushing the measure in future sessions until he can get it passed. The bill would encourage ad revenue in local papers, which pays the salaries of local journalists, according to Lopez. It’s also good for democracy, he said, as areas without local coverage tend to have more government and small business corruption and see lower local election turnout.
Lopez, whose district covers the Seven Corners/Cullmore District adjacent the City of Falls Church, modeled his bill on the federal Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA), included in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act. It came from the Rebuild Local News coalition, coordinated by Steve Waldman, the founder of Report for America, a nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms.
Lee Enterprises Returns Directors To Board As Alden Push Fails
Lee Enterprises’ annual meeting has generally gone by the books, with shareholders voting overwhelmingly to return three director nominees to the board. In preliminary vote results, Chairman Mary Junck, lead independent director Herb Moloney and CEO Kevin Mowbray were re-elected to their board seats. Each nominee received support from more than 70% of votes cast, according to Lee’s proxy solicitor, and turnout was a record: More than 75% of outstanding shares cast votes on directors, up 20 points from average turnout from the past three years. “The results represent a resounding rejection of Alden Global Capital’s campaign against Lee,” the company says in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to grow the business and building value as we execute our digital growth strategy. We also remain committed to delivering highly valued local journalism, which is at the core of Lee’s strengths and competitive advantage.” Alden – which had seen its Lee takeover bid rebuffed – launched a proxy fight to deny votes to Junck and Moloney.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Becomes Third Adams Paper To Organize With The Newsguild
The nine editorial staff at the Bozeman (Montana) Daily Chronicle petitioned the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday for an election to certify their union, the Yellowstone News Guild.
If they are successful, they will be the third newspaper owned by the Adams Publishing Group to organize with the NewsGuild, the largest union representing journalists. Workers at the Skagit Valley (Washington) Herald and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle are already represented by unions.
The filing comes after Daily Chronicle journalists sent Adams Publishing regional president Mark Dobie a letter requesting the company voluntarily recognize their union. “Building a sustainable career in our newsroom is out of reach for many staffers. Many of us are in tenuous housing situations and despite our professional goals know the housing market combined with low pay could force us out of Bozeman,” the staff wrote. “Our pay and working conditions are simply not good enough. Unionizing will result in better conditions for us and, frankly, a better newspaper.” The company refused, forcing the staff to seek an NLRB election. Adams Publishing did not respond to a request for comment.
How Local Publishers Are Using Innovative Formats And Distribution Strategies To Serve Readers
A new report from the International Press Institute (IPI) takes an in-depth look into how local news publishers outside the US and Western Europe are innovating to serve their readers, overcome challenges and thrive. “Local media has been the most disrupted sector of the news media,” writes Jacqui Park, author of the report, Local Media Survival Guide 2022. “It had to rethink all aspects of the business model.” “The ability of local media to simply adapt the subscriber-based model of national media is constrained both by the size of their audience and, often, by the disadvantaged nature of their communities,” she adds.
The report is based on discussions with more than 35 journalists, editors, media leaders, and entrepreneurs from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. They include both new digital start-ups and traditional media in transition. It also shares many case studies showcasing innovative ideas that can potentially serve other publishers as well.
Zimbabwe’s 263Chat, for example, is leveraging Whatsapp to distribute its journalism. It publishes a Monday to Friday e-paper in PDF format across about 200 WhatsApp groups that collectively reach 50,000 Zimbabweans. The publisher also distributes news via its web page and on social media, especially Twitter. It is driven by the goal of making factbased journalism easily accessible to all Zimbabweans, especially those living in rural areas.
Using Whatsapp allows the publisher to easily get direct feedback from readers, as well as identify issues that need to be covered. 263Chat also seeks to go beyond news content and serve community information needs. For example, it has six WhatsApp groups for farmers where they can connect, share information, and problem-solve together.