Letter from the Publisher: What if local news vanished?

This week, the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal will launch a comprehensive membership program—it’s a way for any of our regular readers to join with the thousands of subscribers who are already financially supporting our independent local journalism with a monthly subscription.

Our subscribers help make our journalism happen. It’s helped us grow from four employees in 2018 to 26 employees today. It’s helped us sustain over two dozen good paying local jobs in our community, so our journalists can live in the city they cover. It’s helped keep the Post and Business Journal free to read, without a paywall.

And the growth of this local newsroom and expansion of journalism in Long Beach is happening with similar success in communities across the country—from Chicago to Denver, Memphis to Santa Cruz, Dallas to Boise.

Unfortunately, for every local success story, there are far more grim outcomes. Consider:

  • The number of working reporters has declined over 60% since 2000.
  • Over 1,800 communities have no local news source at all.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, around 36,000 journalists have faced layoffs or pay cuts or furloughs.

The fate local journalism has faced in so many other communities is what we’re trying to avoid every day at the Post and the Business Journal. That’s why we’re launching a membership program this week in the hopes you’ll help our work continue.

At the same time, this week is also crucial in Congress for the proposed Build Back Better package—the $1.75 trillion bill with support for healthcare, child care, climate change—and yes, help for local journalism.

That’s right—Build Back Better includes a payroll tax credit for local newsrooms  that would effectively subsidize the cost of employing local journalists by up to 50% in the first year after passage and tax credit benefits continue an additional four years.

Just for our newsroom, that amounts to an estimated $425,000 benefit in the first year alone, which we would be able to reinvest into preserving jobs, hiring additional journalists, launching new long-term investigative projects and providing ongoing training and tools to continuously improve our service to our community.

And it’s not just local news in Long Beach that would benefit, but also countless other communities around the country. Simply put, this tax credit will save thousands of journalism jobs and protect local news nationwide.

Passage of the bill isn’t guaranteed—it will still need almost every House Democrat and all 50 Senate Democrats in support—but the tax credit provision does have strong bipartisan support.

Our news organization is proud to be part of Rebuild Local News, a nationwide coalition of over 3,000 other newsrooms and organizations, led by our friends at the nonprofit GroundTruth Project, advocating together for stronger community journalism, far beyond the passage of the tax credits in the Build Back Better proposal.

You’ll also see a stark possibility on the front page of our print edition and throughout websites—a future where robust, trusted local news might not exist in Long Beach, where local journalists are no longer covering our community.

It’s a future none of us want to see happen in Long Beach or in any other community.

We hope you don’t either.

Here’s how you can help

  1. Become a Member Directly support our journalism today, with nifty benefits too, by becoming a member of the Long Beach Post Community.
  2. Make your voice heard Contact your Representatives and ask them to vote in support of Build Back Better and the tax credits for local journalists.
  3. Learn more about us Curious about our organization, how decisions work, what our policies are, or our Mission Statement? Our Transparency Portal has the answers.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

David Sommers is publisher of the Long Beach Post. As the publication’s top leader, he is responsible for everything from editorial and advertising to technical and corporate operations. On any given day, you can find him meeting with advertisers, schmoozing with city leaders and poring over tough news decisions. He’s also responsible for fixing the copy machine, setting up officer furniture and keeping the newsroom well-stocked with paper towels and coffee pods.
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