NewsGuild-CWA President tells House subcommittee about ‘extinction-level event’ local news faces

Earlier this month, NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss spoke about the existential threat local news is facing during a hearing before a House subcommittee. He urged Congress to “use its power to respond to this crisis,” adding that “the crisis in local news is a crisis of democracy.”

Schleuss’ comments and the full hearing can be found here. An excerpt of Schleuss’ statement, which features a mention of the Montana News Guild, is below:

We’re the largest union of journalists in the United States, with thousands of news workers among our membership — at large publications like the Washington Post and New York Times and small ones like the Billings Gazette in Montana News and the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union. We’re also part of the Communications Workers of America.

I grew up in rural south Arkansas and remember as a kid that my grandmother got two newspapers every day. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in the morning and the Camden News in the afternoon.

Fast-forward to my first full-time job in the news industry which ended up being at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I was their online editor.

I have a background in both computer programming and journalism, and I fused my skills to help us transition from printed newspapers to better news online.

But two months into my job, the head of the company pulled everyone in a room to tell us that we were merging with our competing newspaper. Within a couple months, hundreds of people lost their jobs. I remember seeing reporters — mothers and fathers — crying in offices not knowing what their futures were going to look like.

That was a quick introduction into the radical shift in the news industry.

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