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Our View - COVID-19 infecting health of local newspapers, too
Statesboro Herald
Statesboro Herald

During the coronavirus pandemic, access to accurate and trustworthy information is critical in every community.

As your local newspaper, the Statesboro Herald provides news and information unique to our community. But your access to local news and information is gravely threatened by the economic carnage COVID-19 has wrought.

While the Herald and other local newspapers continue to field reporters and bring news and advice from public health authorities in print and online — at considerable cost — revenues have declined significantly as the businesses that are some of our most important advertisers were shuttered.

That’s why America’s Newspapers and other organizations representing local news providers are asking Congress to take urgent action to ensure communities don’t lose their vital sources of timely and trustworthy information.

First, we’re asking that Congress expand and clarify the Payroll Protection Program to ensure it covers all local newspapers and news broadcasters. While some of these outlets may be owned by large organizations, they must survive on their own.

These loans will keep the newspaper employees — your neighbors — on their payrolls and help get the news to you in print as well as online. We appreciate the bipartisan letter of April 19 from U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Boozman (R-AR) that requested waiving the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) affiliation rule to allow local media outlets to access funding, pointing to the critical role these outlets play in keeping communities healthy and informed.

Second, we are asking that the Trump Administration direct current federal government advertising funds to local news and media outlets. These public service and informative ads could be similar to the ones running right now about the U.S. Census.

They could carry critical government information about data from the CDC, access to small business loans, medical resources for families and other important topics. We’re asking for a commitment that would be spent in an equitable manner across all local news providers.

Please contact the offices of your senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress and tell them you support expanding the Payroll Protection Program to include your local news source and that the federal government should use local newspapers or news broadcaster to convey important information through public service ads.

Take this easy action to ensure that your access to local information doesn’t become another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you and may you and your family remain safe and informed during this difficult time.

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