We are in an unprecedented moment for journalism. The media landscape is changing dramatically, empowering more and more people to become media makers even as the traditional infrastructures that have supported journalism for years are eroding.
Yet one thing hasn’t changed: Journalism remains a public good. Journalism is so vital to our democracy that our founders protected it in the First Amendment.
Like many public goods, journalism has always been heavily subsidized. For the past century, the subsidy model has been advertising-supported journalism. But now that model is under threat. As a result of changes to the industry wrought by media consolidation, 24/7 cable news channels and the rise of the Internet, many cities and towns have lost their local newspapers. Meanwhile, slashed budgets and staff layoffs have ravaged local TV newsrooms.
We need to address the policies that have encouraged media companies to gut newsrooms and abandon serious newsgathering. We need policies that will foster a new era of locally rooted journalism. This is not about newspapers specifically; it’s about all kinds of newsrooms. It’s not about protecting old institutions or shoring up outmoded business models; it’s about serving the information needs of local communities.
The future of journalism will likely feature a range of models, and we recognize the need for experimentation, now and in the future. To nurture this kind of innovation, we need to engage in a truly public conversation about what the future of journalism should look like and point policymakers and regulators toward an agenda that will save the news and serve the public good.