The Model Bill: Executive Order

The model executive order below attempts to implement the “must-have” elements discussed in Part One of the Rebuild Local News / Center for Community Media Kit. States and localities could consider implementing optional provisions discussed there as well.


Executive Order No. []


WHEREAS, [YOUR STATE/LOCALITY] benefits from robust local news services that provide trusted and essential information to the community; and

WHEREAS, high quality state and local news has been shown to limit corruption, encourage citizen participation, combat misinformation, and mitigate community and individual alienation; and

WHEREAS, local news here and throughout the country is struggling with newspaper advertising nationally dropping 82% since 2000, contributing to a 57% drop in the number of reporters at newspapers and thousands of closures; and

WHEREAS, local news outlets are trusted sources of information for communities throughout [STATE/LOCALITY] and advertising spending with these outlets carries a substantial benefit for the effective dissemination of government information to the communities the government serves; and

WHEREAS, governmental initiatives to increase spending on local news advertising have been manifestly successful in both supporting local news outlets and improving the information diet for communities in several major U.S. cities; and 

WHEREAS, [STATE/LOCALITY] can and will implement such an initiative while preserving the editorial independence of Local News Organizations selling advertising pursuant to this program, and recognizes that any diversion of advertising spending that has the effect or appearance of an attempt to influence the editorial content of a Local News Organization violates the federal and state guarantees of freedom of the press and freedom of speech; and

WHEREAS, [STATE/LOCALITY] will endeavor to work with an independent third party watchdog group  to ensure that the purposes and requirements of this Order are implemented faithfully and in accordance with the preceding clause. 

NOW, THEREFORE, by the power vested in me as [TITLE], it is hereby ordered.


  1. Increasing Local News Organization Advertising Spending. For the first full fiscal year after this Order takes effect, and for each fiscal year thereafter, [STATE/LOCALITY] shall ensure that XX percent of annual advertising spending[SEE GUIDE FOR HOW TO DEFINE THIS VARIABLE] by [STATE/LOCALITY] is in  Local News Organization publications.  To implement this mandate, [STATE/LOCALITY] will maintain a list of Local News Organizations that meet the definition in § 4.  
  2. Audience and Purpose of Advertising. In deciding how to spend advertising, if [STATE/LOCALITY] determines that a Local News Organization can reach the target audience and serve the purposes of the advertising as well as or better than a non-Local News Organization, [STATE/LOCALITY] shall select that Local News Organization for the contract.
  3. Transparency. [STATE/LOCALITY] shall prepare and make available to the public annually a report including, but not limited to, the list of all eligible Local News Organizations, the advertising spending by agency, the recipients of the spending, and the amount spent at each recipient.  [STATE/LOCALITY] officials responsible for purchasing or coordinating the purchase of advertising under this Order will be required to attend regular training on this Order, and, at a minimum, trainings shall be held for each new employee with such responsibility upon hire and for all employees with such responsibility annually. 
  4. Appeals and Complaints. Entities that have been determined not to be Local News Organizations by the [STATE/LOCALITY] shall be provided, upon request, a written explanation for that determination and [STATE/LOCALITY] shall create an appeals process that provides meaningful review of an adverse decision, including review of a decision not to purchase advertising from a Local News Organization under Section 2 above.  [STATE/LOCALITY] shall also create a process to receive complaints regarding this program from the public.  
  5. Preserving Editorial Independence. In determining whether an entity qualifies as a Local News Organization, [STATE/LOCALITY] is prohibited from considering any criteria other than those listed in § 6.  [STATE/LOCALITY] is prohibited from discriminating among Local News Organizations based on editorial content, unless that content is objectively relevant to the target audience and articulated purposes of the advertising.  [STATE/LOCALITY] may, however, consider whether an entity has sufficient technical capacity to meet the needs of [STATE/LOCALITY] in determining whether an entity qualifies as a Local News Organization.
  6. Definition. A Local News Organization is an entity that engages professionals to create, edit, produce, and distribute original content concerning matters of public interest through reporting activities, including conducting interviews, observing current events, or analyzing documents or other information.  A Local News Organizations must have at least 33 percent of its audience in [STATE/LOCALITY] and at least one employee employed full-time for 30 hours a week or more dedicated to providing local coverage and living within 50 miles of the coverage area, who is involved in gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing original local or state community news for dissemination to the local or state community.  A Local News Organization has published at least one print publication per month over the previous 12 months or, in the case of digital-only entities, must have published one piece per week over the previous 12 months.  The entity owning a Local News Organization may not have received more than 50 percent of its gross receipts for the previous year from political action committees or other entities described in § 527 of the federal Internal Revenue Code, or from an organization that maintains § 501(c)(4), (c)(5), or (c)(6) status under the federal Internal Revenue Code. [SEE GUIDE FOR ALTERNATIVE DEFINITIONS OF LOCAL]
  7. Effective Date. This Order shall take effect immediately.

NEXT: Implementing the Program