Please Save Community News in New York State


To: Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Senate Minority Leader Ortt, Assembly Speaker Heastie, and Assembly Minority Leader Barclay

We the undersigned lead newsrooms, unions and other organizations working to strengthen local news in the state of New York. We do not, as a rule, write letters to elected officials, but we believe that the dramatic loss of community journalism is grievously harming communities – and that the legislation  being considered by New York State is a First Amendment-friendly way of addressing this crisis. 

The scale of this problem is hard to overstate. The number of weekly newspapers in New York plunged from 439 in 2004 to 249 in 2019. New York papers lost 63 percent of their circulation, tied for the most in the nation. Nationally we’ve seen about a 57% decline in the number of reporters in less than two decades. On average, two newspapers are closing each week.

Studies have shown that communities with less local news have more waste, corruption, and polarization – and less civic engagement. One study even showed that weaker local news systems led to higher municipal borrowing costs.

We are all working hard to quickly adapt our business models, better engage readers, and draw in support from the philanthropic sector. But these steps will not be nearly big enough or fast enough. And the vacuums that are being created by the shrinking of local news are being rapidly filled by social media, national partisan news, counterfeit local websites (funded by political activists of both parties) and conspiracy theories. The communities harmed are rural and urban, large and small, red and blue. Time is of the essence.

We understand well the risks of government involvement in supporting local news. But we also understand the high risk of doing nothing. We are pleased to see you are considering the bipartisan, Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which provides tax credits for news organizations to retain or hire local journalists at newspapers, news websites, radio stations and local TV news programs. 

It’s got sound incentives, as it pegs the financial help to the number of local journalists. Companies that lay off reporters will get less; those that hire may get more. There’s a limit on how much any newsroom could get, to ensure it gets spread to smaller publications.

This nonpartisan legislation also has firewalls to prevent elected officials from rewarding or punishing particular news outlets. No government body decides whether to give a grant to this newsroom or that. It’s a tax provision. You qualify or you don’t. That provides great insulation.

We’ll end on a note that may seem unusual in a letter like this. Part of why we need a strong local press is to hold elected officials accountable. Passing this will not make us do less of that. In fact, it will help us do more.

But the benefits go beyond that. Community news helps residents make choices for their families, gives communities the information they need to tackle their problems, and enables neighbors to better understand each other. It strengthens communities.  

Thank you for your consideration.  Signed,

Diane Kennedy, New York News Publishers Association

Michelle Rea, New York Press Association

The New York State AFL-CIO

Elinor Tatum, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, Amsterdam News, New York City

Adam Stone, Publisher, The Examiner News, NY’s Westchester & Putnam Counties

Cameron Williams, Owner & CRO, Ogden Newspapers 

  • The Post-Journal (Jamestown)
  • The Observer (Dunkirk)
  • Adirondack Daily Enterprise (Saranac Lake)
  • Lake Placid News (Lake Placid)
  • The Sentinel-News (Westfield)
  • Westfield Republican (Jamestown)

Stuart Richner, CEO & Publisher, Richner Communications, Inc., Garden City, NY

  • Baldwin Herald
  • Bellmore Herald
  • East Meadow Herald 
  • Franklin Square/Elmont Herald
  • Freeport Herald 
  • Glen Cove Herald
  • Hempstead Beacon
  • The Jewish Star (Nassau, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx)
  • Long Beach Herald
  • Long Beach Magazine 
  • Lynbrook/East Rockaway Herald
  • Malverne/West Hempstead Herald
  • Merrick Herald
  • Nassau Herald (Atlantic Beach, Cedarhurst, Hewlett, Inwood, Lawrence, North Woodmere, Woodmere)
  • Oceanside/Island Park Herald 
  • Oyster Bay Herald
  • The Riverdale Press
  • Rockaway Journal (Far Rockaway)
  • Rockville Centre Herald
  • Sea Cliff/Glen Head Herald
  • Seaford Herald
  • South Shore Record (Atlantic Beach, Cedarhurst, Hewlett, Inwood, Lawrence, North Woodmere, Woodmere)
  • Uniondale Beacon
  • Valley Stream Herald
  • Wantagh Herald

Bradley Waters, President, Sentinel Media Co., Rome, NY

  • Daily Sentinel (Mohawk Valley Region)
  • Boonville Herald (Oneida, Lewis, Herkimer, and Hamilton Counties)

Jon Schleuss, President of NewsGuild-CWA, which includes:

  • The NewsGuild-CWA
  • Albany Newspaper Guild
  • Buffalo Newspaper Guild
  • The NewsGuild of New York
  • Newspaper Guild of Rochester
  • Utica News Guild
  • Hudson Valley News Guild

C. Zawadi Morris, President of The New York City Association of Local and Ethnic Media, Founder & Publisher of BK Reader, Brooklyn, NY

Joshua Schneps, CEO & Co-Publisher, Schneps Media, New York City

  • AM New York Metro
  • The Queens Courier
  • TimesLedger
  • Brooklyn Paper
  • Bronx Times
  • The Villager
  • Long Island Press
  • Dan’s Papers

Dozier Hasty, Publisher of Eagle Urban Media

  • Brooklyn Daily Eagle (est. 1841)
  • Queens Daily Eagle (est. 2019)
  • Brooklyn Heights Press & Cobble Hill News (est. 1939)
  • Brooklyn Spectator (est. 1934)
  • Brooklyn Home Reporter & Sunset News (est. 1953)
  • Brooklyn Record (est. 1938)
  • North Brooklyn Gazette (est. as Greenpoint Gazette, 1973)
  • Brooklyn Phoenix (est. 1972)
  • INBrooklyn (est. as Brooklyn Journal of Arts & Urban Affairs, 1976)
  • Brooklyn Eagle Weekly (est. 1996)

Jeanne Straus, Publisher & Owner, Straus News

  • Our Town/Eastsider (Manhattan) 
  • Spirit/West Sider (Manhattan)
  • Chelsea ClintonNews/Chelsea News (Manhattan)
  • Our Town Downtown/Downtowner (Manhattan) 
  • Warwick Advertiser (Warwick, NY)
  • The Photo News (Monroe, NY)
  • The Chronicle (Chester and Goshen, NY)
  • Dirt Magazine (Orange County, NY)

Denise Civiletti, Editor & Publisher, East End Local Media Corp., Riverhead, NY

  • RiverheadLOCAL
  • East End Local
  • Tu Prensa Local (affiliate)

Nic Dawes, Executive Director, THE CITY, New York City

Julia Moak, Publisher, Greenpointers, Brooklyn, NY

George Fiala, Publisher, The Red Hook Star-Revue, Brooklyn, NY

Mazin Sidahmed, Co-Executive Director, Documented, New York City


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