Butler Joins Schatz Resolution Highlighting Importance of Local News

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) in introducing a resolution designating April 2024 as “Preserving and Protecting Local News Month.” The resolution recognizes local news as a public good that serves an essential function in American democracy.

“Millions of Americans count on the local news to help them understand what is happening in their neighborhoods and around the country. Yet local newsrooms have suffered from some of the harshest layoffs and budget cuts in recent years,” said Senator Butler. “It is critical that we recognize the role our local press plays in keeping people informed on the world around them.”

“Americans rely on local news to stay informed about their communities and the country,” said Senator Schatz. “As the industry continues to face unprecedented challenges resulting in newsroom closures, layoffs, and budget cuts, it’s critical that we highlight and support the essential public service local news provides.”

Overall employment in newspaper, television, radio, and digital newsrooms in the United States fell by 26 percent, or 30,000 jobs, from 2008-2020. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, more than 360 local newsrooms have closed across the country. Schatz’s resolution affirms the significance of local news in increasing civic engagement and strengthening democratic norms and practices, and recognizes the invaluable contributions of local journalists in maintaining healthy and vibrant communities. 

The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Vt.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

The resolution has been endorsed by PEN America, Common Cause, Public Knowledge, and Free Press Action.

“Throughout our nation’s history, local news has been a bulwark for holding power to account and advancing a pluralistic democracy that represents and includes all, irrespective of their background or status,” said Laura Schroeder, Congressional Affairs Lead at PEN America. “The erosion of local news threatens our system of checks and balances and starves communities of the information required for democratic citizenship. In an election year already ushering in alarming levels of information manipulation, local news is a crucial line of defense worth fortifying. PEN America lauds Senator Schatz’s resolution, which reaffirms local news’ indispensability to our democracy.” 

The full text of the resolution is available here.



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