More than a dozen senators are calling for any future stimulus package addressing the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus to include funding for local journalism, saying that communities across the U.S. are at risk of losing their source of news because of the pandemic.
Seeking to paint the financial problems of local news as strictly a side effect of the current crisis, the letter penned by 18 Democratic senators ignores the fact that local news, especially local newspapers like those produced by Gannett, have been in a constant state of decline for years.
Gannett, one of the nation's largest newspaper chains, announced furloughs and pay cuts across the company due to the financial hit it is experiencing. The move will force staffers to take one week of unpaid leave for the next three months.
The senators wrote that these layoffs and pay cuts are taking place even as the news outlets provide answers to "critical questions" about the pandemic.
"The current public health crisis has made the already vital role of local news even more critical," the senators wrote, noting that local news sources have provided answers to critical questions about business and school closures, as well as details about where testing is available.
The reaction on Twitter was unsuprisingly not kind:
The Media's demand for stimulus packages as they allude to be frontline workers is the most outlandish demand I have heard. If they think the risk is too much they are at liberty to stay home.— McArthur (@Hairicanematic) April 8, 2020
Lol no. https://t.co/l35j27Hp36— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) April 8, 2020
Read the full letter below.