President Donald Trump holds up a newspaper with the headline that reads “ACQUITTED” at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast, at the Washington Hilton, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Truth be told, I have almost entirely stopped watching cable news networks, and I dropped my subscription to the Washington Post because the coverage is so bad. Many of these reporters are making a mockery of journalism, which was my first career field and something I care deeply about.
That’s why, though, it’s important to support your local journalists. The vast majority of them are not looking to be the heroes of their stories. They aren’t looking to jump to that next level. They are simply in it to report on what’s going on in their communities, or within their beats. The most important journalism is what gets done when you challenge the powerful with facts, not with assertions, accusations, and acting foolish at press conferences.
Gannett recently announced furloughs for employees who earn a certain amount per year. I have friends who are affected by this. Luckily, Gannett restructured a year or so ago and it’s able to weather this COVID-19 storm a lot better than some. Other media companies are going to be making hard choices. The Advocate, which is a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, paper with offices in Lafayette, Louisiana, and had bought out the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is having to do mass furloughs and reduce staff to four-day weeks.
Across the country, other smaller, local media outlets have faced a lot of problems. Things have been getting better thanks to a reviving economy, but the COVID-19 outbreak has stopped that growth and, in some cases, reversed it. When it comes to the information that is really important to you, it’s these outlets that need your support. The national outlets will be just fine. They operate on millions every year, and if they can afford to pay guys like Chris Cillizza of CNN 6-8 figures per year, then they can certainly afford to hold on while the economy is shut down.
Local journalism is what matters. These are the people who do the best work. There are good people on the national stage, and I’m friends with some of them. But America will survive without them. America would be much worse off if your local community did not have anyone to report on what your local government was doing, and how your community was handling an important event or crisis, or how local schools were adapting to new requirements and standards.
These are the important things. These journalists deserve your support now more than ever.