Press Release

New Bipartisan COVID Stimulus Package Includes Support for Local Journalism

December 22, 2020 , , ,

Today, the details of a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill totaling $900 billion, which Congress passed last night, became public. Thanks in part to the efforts of Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a longtime champion of local journalism, the bill includes a provision that will make thousands of local journalism outlets – including small local newspapers and radio and TV broadcasters, as well as hundreds of public broadcasting stations – newly eligible for emergency federal support under the Paycheck Protection Program.

Senator Cantwell, the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, recently published a comprehensive report framing the crisis facing local journalism. The report aims to define the challenges facing local news outlets and encourage bipartisan support for both short and long-term federal interventions that will allow local journalism to flourish. It included a proposal to consider renewing and expanding eligibility for COVID-19 emergency relief in the form of the Payment Protection Program.

The following can be attributed to Lisa Macpherson, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:

“As the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the country, citizens have turned to local journalism for the most authoritative and relevant information on how the pandemic has impacted their own communities. We appreciate Senator Cantwell’s advocacy to include expanded eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program in this bipartisan relief package, and hope that it signals bipartisan support for a broader range of solutions designed to protect the role of local journalism in our democracy.”

You may view Senator Cantwell’s full report. You may also view the Public Knowledge blog post, “Next Stimulus Package Should Target “Distressed” Local Journalism,” for more information on the crisis in local journalism.