ANNALs: An Overview of State and Local Legislation to Support Local News

Lawmakers have introduced legislation specifically designed to provide support to local news media in connection to calamitous declines in the commercial modes that traditionally have supported and secured journalism in the U.S.

Jessica Mahone, research director at the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media at UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, reported on several challenges associated with the enactment of legislation aimed at supporting local news including partisan divides, budgetary restrictions, narrow definitions of local news media, and exacerbation of the deterioration of the economic conditions faced by news media by legislation that guts public notice laws.

The article, “Media Policy for an Informed Citizenry: Revisiting the Information Needs of Communities for Democracy in Crisis,” demonstrates the obstacles local news ecosystems still face even with legislative help.

“Since 2017, legislators in 10 states have introduced 24 bills that propose support for local news. Five bills have been introduced in the state house in New York, followed by four in New Jersey and Massachusetts and three in California. Two bills have been introduced in Illinois and Wisconsin and one bill in Colorado, Maine, Virginia, and Washington. Nine bills have failed to pass, and six were still active as of November 2022,” Mahone said.

No data yet is compelling enough to prove that these legislative bills and policies can provide a sustainable and equitable future for local news.

Read the entire paper in the “Media Policy for an Informed Citizenry: Revisiting the Information Needs of Communities for Democracy in Crisis” edition of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science journal.