More than 1,200 members of the WGA East have signed a petition calling on Congress to pass immediate financial relief for news-gathering organizations, many of which have seen advertising revenues plummet by more than 50% during the coronavirus pandemic. Signers include David Simon (The Plot Against America), Tom Fontana (Homicide: Life on the Street) and Robin Thede (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore).
“At a time when our nation, and our world, face an unprecedented public health crisis, it is more imperative than ever that the public have access to relevant, reliable news and information,” the petition states (read it here).
“Journalism and journalists are essential to the functioning of our democracy, and to the safety of our population – people need to know what is happening in their local communities, in national policy, in science and medicine, in the whole range of human affairs.
“At the same time, the economic downturn associated with the health crisis has made it more difficult than ever for news media organizations – television and radio stations and networks, digital news and information companies, newspapers and magazines – to survive economically.
“Therefore, we call upon our federal government to provide immediate, substantial financial support for news media organizations in the form of grants and affordable loans. This financial support must include the requirement that the money be spent on news gathering and news distribution – in particular, on the payroll costs for people who are involved in news gathering and news distribution. The financial support must also include the other employee protections found in similar programs that were created in the CARES Act.”
A letter sent Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) states: “Initial reporting estimates a 51% decline in spending on advertisements over March and April. This collapse is hitting digital-native outlets hardest, since most do not charge subscription fees and thus are disproportionately dependent on advertising revenue. For the professionals who work in digital newsrooms, federal financial support – whether by grant, loan, or other means – is all that stands between continuing to produce critical journalism and unemployment.”
That letter (read it here) was signed by 24 members of Congress including Adam Schiff (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).