As the California State Legislature prepares to adjourn on August 31, it has become clear that our elected officials do not plan to share the State’s surplus with local and Hispanic-owned publishers. For many Californians, access to unbiased news through a free, local press is non-existent or in short supply.
We cannot allow local news sources to continue to disappear. The facts speak for themselves. According to a study by the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Hussman School of Journalism, the US has lost more than 2,100 newspapers over the last fifteen years, leaving at least 1,800 communities without a local news outlet. The UNC report concludes that of 58 counties in California, two have no newspaper and 12 have only one. Since 2004, the State has seen a 25 percent decline in daily and weekly newspapers. Losing local and Hispanic-owned newspapers gives way to homogenizing and biased reporting that does not inform or educate readers.
Senator Glazer (D-Contra Costa) introduced the Bill to Fund Public Interest Media (SB 911) to provide grants to local and minority-owned news sources and revive the function of the local free press. In presenting SB 911, Senator Glazer stated, “I am committed to helping California local media organizations survive in an unfamiliar landscape that has seen a fourth of our newspapers and half of their readers disappear in the past 15 years.” Glazer adds, “It’s vital that we stop the spread of disinformation and conspiracy theories that have blossomed in the gaps left by the media on which we used to depend for accurate information.”
SB 911 did not garner the support needed in the Assembly Accountability Committee to set the bill for a hearing in the Appropriations Committee. Yet another example of how powerful competing business interests availing themselves of their lobbying clout are able to defeat good ideas that do not benefit them.
Local and Hispanic-owned publishers can count on Senator Glazer’s continuing efforts to establish an entity modeled on the not-for-profit Corporation for Public Broadcasting to provide financial support. These efforts deserve our wholehearted support.
Like the rest of the country, communities in California are experiencing a dramatic reduction in local news coverage. Many outlets are collapsing entirely from the loss of stabilizing advertising revenue while others are shrinking in size, as they desperately seek alternative revenue sources.
There is little time for our elected officials to act and support SB 911 and the efforts of Senator Glazer.
For nearly 35 years, Fanny Miller, President/CEO of El Latino Newspaper, has published San Diego’s Largest Hispanic Newspaper and California’s largest Latina-owned Spanish-language newspaper. The long-trusted local publication serves more than 805,000 monthly readers by educating, informing, and connecting the Latino community throughout San Diego County.