Each week, Editor & Publisher Magazine (E&P) produces a Vodcast of timely interviews with newspaper, broadcast, online and all forms of news publishing and media industry leaders.
E&P has been publishing since 1884 and is considered the "bible" and "authoritative voice" of the North American newspaper industry.
Each episode is hosted by Publisher Mike Blinder.
A video version of "E&P Reports" is also available on YouTube or on the E&P Website at: http://www.EditorandPublisher.com/vodcasts
172 Steve Waldman’s Rebuild Local News Coalition — aggregating industry advocacy
The numbers are staggering. As the U.S. population grows, the number of local newsroom employees continues to decline, as an average of two newspapers shut down each week. Moreover, research shows that a shortage of local news harms the very fabric of our communities. With less new coverage comes more government corruption and local apathy regarding voting or civic involvement.
And today, with large corporations and hedge funds who now own what was once vibrant family-owned local news operations and seek more profit by gutting newsrooms, less and less local reporting is taking place. This has created "ghost newspapers" that generate only a handful of stories each week that serve the common good.
Over the past few years, some controversial bills have been introduced into Congress to tap into the large amount of locally available ad revenue that has been gobbled up by "big tech." Historically, that revenue was used to help fund local newsrooms. One of the bills that did not gain complete industry support was the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act" (JCPA), which, if passed, would give news publishers the ability to collectively negotiate with “big tech” platforms for content compensation. Other bills, like the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA), were floated to offer tax credits to help fund news operations.
Some have said that the challenge facing our industry's advocacy has been our lack of ability to work with one common "voice," with different media associations working separately with other priorities and agendas.
Today with the core mission of helping to advance public policies to counter the collapse of local news, revitalize community journalism and strengthen democracy, the Rebuild Local News Coalition (RLN) was started by Steven Waldman, who initially incubated the GroundTruth Project and Report for America. A recent RLN press release that announced the organization’s gaining non-profit status lists members that include the Institute for Nonprofit News, the Local Media Consortium (LMC), the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN), the National Association of Hispanic Publishers and the Local Independent Online News Association (LION). The News Guild-CWA, one of the largest news labor unions in the country, is also part of the coalition.
When asked why large, established industry lobbying and advocacy organizations like the News/Media Alliance (NMA), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and America’s Newspapers were notably absent from the list, Waldman responded that the coalition wished to maintain a more local focus when it came to member news media organizations. And even though these groups were not listed members of the RLN, they have and will coordinate with them when it is warranted.
The RLN has reportedly raised close to $1-million dollars in philanthropic donations from Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Microsoft Corporation.
In this 172nd episode of "E&P Reports," we go one-on-one with Steven Waldman, co-founder of Report for America and chair of the Rebuild Local News Coalition, an alliance of local news organizations that has recently become an independent nonprofit planning to advance a range of public policies addressing the accelerating crisis in local news threatening so many communities. E&P Publisher Mike Blinder asks Waldman why the new coalition is necessary and what its priorities are, what initiatives they are championing and how they can help move public policies along on a state and national level, including payroll tax credits, proposals to target government advertising spending toward local news instead of social media and reducing the influence of hedge funds on local newspapers.
The Bucks County Herald: A story of survival, moving from family to foundation-owned
For just under two decades, residents in Bucks County, Penn., a suburb of Philadelphia, were served by the Bucks County Herald, a weekly publication started by Bridget Wingert and her late husband, Joseph T. Wingert.
In 2020, as a global pandemic ravaged its advertising base, the family ownership, now including Bridget's son and Publisher Joseph Wingert, had to face the possibility of ceasing publication, which so many other community news publishers did, leaving voids in local cities across the nation.
However, the community support for having a local voice was so strong that in the fall of 2020, the Wingerts donated their ownership to a new charitable entity which formed the Bucks County Herald Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which through private and business donations along with advertising revenue has produced a sustainable business model that serves over 200,000 readers each week.
Recently, the foundation produced a compelling video, viewed by thousands, entitled "Miracle in Bucks County," which even features a testimonial from CNN and SiriusXM host Michael Smerconish.
In this 171st episode of E&P Reports, we reveal the story of the re-birth of suburban Philly weekly, The Bucks County Herald, which rose from the ashes of the global pandemic through a transformation from a family-owned to a non-profit foundation-run local news enterprise. E&P Publisher Mike Blinder question Bridget Wingert, founding editor, and her son Joe Winegert, publisher, on how they formed the new entity, what the community support is like and is this business model one that others can easily replicate.
Ken Doctor pulls no punches on why the JCPA was a bad idea & updates us on two years at Lookout Local.
On December 5th, 2022, well-known news publishing analyst Ken Doctor, published a 2800-plus word updatevia Nieman Lab on the 2-year progress of his innovative Santa Cruz, CA digital news start-up, Lookout Local.
Within the document, Doctor pulls no punches about his opinion on the state of legacy media and its desire to help bolster a sustainable business model via big tech compensation by writing: "Lookout Local has never been about money itself, but money to the end of the mission — money that can prove out the proposition that a robust replacement for suicidal dailies can, indeed, be built. That’s especially important in the age of Gannett’s trainwreck, Axios Local’s skimming, and the misguided Journalism Competition and Preservation act currently before Congress.”
He also claims good progress, with a digital-only local news enterprise reporting that without print costs, 80% of his bottom-line expenses are a staff of 15 full-time people, with 10 working in the newsroom and five on the business side. He also states proudly, "We’re old-fashioned, working in a real office, with face-to-face communication throughout the week." The lengthy article also offers industry advice crafted as 11 important "takeaways" as lessons learned over the past 2-years. They include being patient and aggressive, planning but being improvisational, making good friends, leaning on them, and including students in your newsroom.
In this 170th episode of E&P reports, we check in again with media analyst Ken Doctor on how the last 2-years have gone in his quest to build a perfect, sustainable model in local journalism he calls Lookout Local. We also ask him about his opinions on the future of legacy media and why he was so publicly against the recently failed, Local Journalism Sustainability Act (JCPA). Also appearing is Ashley Harmon (Holmes), Lookout Local’s new director of sales & marketing.
The JCPA. What the heck happened, and what's next?
As Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the News Media Alliance, Danielle Coffey leads the advocacy efforts for the NMA's over 2000 news and magazine publishing members worldwide.
2022 was a busy year for Coffey as the U.S. Congress held committee meetings to consider passage of the well-publicized “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” (JCPA), introduced in the House (H.R. 1735) by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), and in the Senate (S. 673) by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). If made into law, this legislation, greatly supported by the news publishing industry, would allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with “big tech” platforms like Google and Facebook for fair compensation for using the news content these publishers generate.
The NMA has been promoting a number of cogent arguments as to why the JCPA is necessary to help local news publishers maintain sustainable business models. These "talking points" include:
“News publishers provide must-have content for the platforms to capture viewers. Between 16% and 40% of Google search results are news content. Publishers deserve fair compensation for the value they offer. By not paying them fairly for their content, Big Tech has driven many local outlets out of business.”
“For every dollar made in digital advertising, the platforms take as much as 70% of the revenue, leaving publishers with a scant 30%. Meanwhile, publishers are paying an additional "ad-tech tax" to the platforms, leaving even less for publishers. As a result of diminished revenues, thousands of journalists have been laid off, and local newspapers have shuttered.” In mid-December of 2022, it looked like the JCPA might pass into law as an attachment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a necessary bill designed to keep the military funded. However, the legislation was "erased" from the NDAA at the last minute.
Then as a final attempt to help the JCPA become law before the end of the 177th Congress, legislators attempted to attach it to the controversial $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill. However, last-minute lobbying from consumer, trade and civil society advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); Free Press Action; the Center for Democracy & Technology; and Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) deluged Congressional leaders with last-minute media that argued against the bill, stating that the JCPA included nothing to guarantee that the monies ultimately paid to news publishers (through negotiation or arbitration) would be used to pay or hire journalists. Their messaging also suggested that the JCPA would favor large media conglomerates, which might “dominate negotiations,” disenfranchising smaller, independent outlets.
In this 169th episode of E&P Reports," we go one-on-one with Danielle Coffey, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the News Media Alliance (NMA), to gain her perspective on what really happened in 2022 to the nearly passed Journalism Competition and Preservation Act” (JCPA). She'll also address why this controversial legislation, designed to allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with “big tech” platforms like Google and Facebook for fair compensation for their use of the news content they monetize, failed to become the law of the land. Coffey also reviews the next steps the NMA will take to keep this legislation alive and the possible future of other content pending compensation models like publisher tax credits and several pending antitrust suits currently being filed by local media companies.
Emmy award-winning broadcaster born without legs is helping others with disabilities find media careers. Meet Dave Stevens.
Dave Stevens is an athlete, a seven-time Emmy Award-winning sports broadcasting professional, and the only person to ever play college football and minor league baseball without legs.
Stevens, a congenital amputee, always had a passion for sports. In high school, he was a three-sport athlete playing football, baseball, and wrestling. Later, he tried out for the Dallas Cowboys, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Minnesota Twins. Stevens even played outfield with former Major League players Barry Bonds and Oddibie McDowell.
Stevens entered media as an Assignment Desk Manager at ESPN, then as the Coverage and Content editor. He worked at ESPN for 20 years, covering 11 Super Bowls, 3 World Series, 3 NCAA Final Fours, and various other historic sports events.
Today he is a reporter for the Disability Channel, where he interviews some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment history. He co-hosts a Celebrity Amputee Golf tournament and is a professional in residence at the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, where he has founded Ability Media, a program that addresses the lack of representation of people with different abilities across all forms of media.
Stevens states, "Over 20.3 million families in the U.S. have a member with a disability — this includes service men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces who acquired a disability while in service to their country. Yet the disability community has no large single media platform, community leaders or geographic centralization. Existing mainstream T.V. generally lacks role models although people with different abilities appear in commercials and disability themes are finding their way into television and films.”
In this 168th episode of "E&P Reports," we interview Dave Stevens, an Emmy award-winning broadcaster born without legs, who is helping others with disabilities find careers across all forms of media. Stevens chats with E&P Publisher Mike Blinder about his passion for sports, media, and motivating others to look beyond their personal challenges and those of others.
Learn more about Dave Stevens at https://www.davestevensspeaks.com.
Journalism Trust Initiative. Elevating journalistic integrity
Serving as a forum for personal and professional networking is a benefit of social media, but its global reach and popularity have resulted in the posting of information — often described as “news” — from less-than-transparent and unverifiable sources. In this environment, the public has difficulty trusting what they read, hear or see, even when it’s the work of professional journalists and media organizations.
To make it easier for the public to recognize trustworthy journalism, Reporters Without Borders created the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) in 2019. It has a three-step process to help media outlets distinguish themselves from the myriad of other sources sharing information on the internet and social media.
This was the topic for discussion during a recent E&P Reports vodcast hosted by Mike Blinder, publisher of Editor & Publisher. His guests were Beth Potter, Ph.D., U.S. regional manager of the Journalism Trust Initiative; Paul Samyn, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press; and Kevin Rehberg, vice president of client development at the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM).
According to Potter, the three-step process was developed in Europe by a panel of journalists convened by the European Commission to determine a set of standards. A web application was created for the JTI website where media outlets can use a questionnaire to judge themselves against these standards.
The three-step process includes the following:
An internal self-assessment of journalistic policies Public disclosure of that assessment in a transparency report An independent audit from a licensed, certified body, such as the AAM “As a former journalist, I don’t think journalists and media outlets market themselves well enough. We should be proud of having standards and explain that we actually do the real work to serve the public. The JTI process can ensure the public that what they are reading comes from media outlets with stated ethics, and the AAM or similar independent bodies have audited them for those ethics and transparency,” Potter said.
The AAM’s traditional function has been to certify the audience a media outlet claims any advertiser will reach when placing advertising with that outlet. Rehberg explained that the AAM has been an independent, nonprofit identity for more than 100 years, differentiating quality news media from all other sources.
“When we learned about the Journalism Trust Initiative, we knew it was right in our wheelhouse. We decided to become part of the Initiative to support journalism in general, but also because JTI’s mission fits so well with ours. We’re now partnering with JTI as one of the certifiers,” Rehberg said.
Samyn and the Winnipeg Free Press have completed the JTI’s three-step process as an additional source of accreditation. The system works differently in Canada than in the United States. The Canadian federal government provides financial support to newspapers that are accredited by a journalism organization based on the number of newsroom employees. This was an effort by the government and the Canadian newspaper industry association to help newspapers overcome the challenge of social media and search engines, such as Google, capturing a substantial portion of advertising revenues those newspapers would otherwise receive.
“We consider trust a point of pride, giving us more strength to serve our readership. For years, any correspondence I have with readers usually ends with the following line before my signature: ‘I hope we continue to earn your trust.’ That’s why we’ve taken the step to certify with Journalism Trust Initiative,” Samyn said.
Publishers and news and media outlets interested in more information about the Journalism Trust Initiative can visit its website at journalismtrustinitiative.org and contact Beth Potter directly at email@example.com.
Good content. Great listen
Disappointed in the latest episode which sounded like an infomercial for a book the host and guest were partners in publishing. As a long-time fan of E&P, I believe this was below their usually high standards.