Every government that ever existed has sought to control and regulate “the news” about itself. Untold thousands have died on gallows or chained in dungeons for publishing or spreading news or information which governments didn’t like.
In the United States there has traditionally been greater freedom of speech and press than in other societies. But the increasing pro-government bias in news (often secretly paid for by government itself) has led to fewer and fewer Americans paying for news content. According to a 2022 report from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, the US loses newspapers “at a rate of two per week.”
A 2018 study from the University of North Carolina found 1,800 local newspapers had shuttered in the US since 2004.
Now there are efforts to turn “news” into a type of religion or charity, as in other countries.
Steven Waldman, co-founder of Report for America, said a new initiative, called Rebuild Local News, wanted to revitalize hundreds of local news outlets across America decimated by changes in the industry, shifts in the sector’s advertising revenue structure and more recently, the pandemic.
The Rebuild Local News coalition is pushing for a comprehensive list of tax credits to keep afloat local newsrooms, such as a tax refund for local news digital subscribers, payroll tax credits for hiring and retaining local reporters, and a tax credit for small businesses to advertise in local news outlets.
Waldman and his coalition estimate that it would bring in $3.5bn of relief to the local news economy via “philanthropy, businesses, consumers and the government”.