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What comes next for Southland journalism?


Questions arise following LA Times layoffs

With the recent layoffs nationwide to various news entities, the media world is at an inflection point. Layoffs at media outlets–whether print, TV, radio or online outlets–are not surprising and happen often for various reasons. But with the emergence of social media journalists, blogs are increasingly becoming the new source of news, and the L.A. Times layoff, many are starting to question if local news journalism is reaching its end. 

The Los Angeles Times recently announced that they laid off 20% of their newsroom employees, citing financial struggles. Since the announcement, close to 200 hundred people have lost their jobs. The journalism industry has seen a decrease in advertisements of 82%, which equates to $40 million since 2000. 

“The crisis is accelerating at a high level as new deserts are becoming more of a natural occurrence rather than an anomaly,” said Steven Waldman, founder and president of Rebuild Local News. “The only other option is to have the government in charge of the news, which nobody wants, and take away the integrity of journalism. There are few options we have, but we are grateful that conservation is happening.”

Waldman details a few of the solutions at the table for the journalism world, which is having government and advertisement funding push toward more community journalism, while another is having federal and state tax levied towards local journalism with grants and donations equaling up to 25,000 dollars per organization. The tax bill has made it to Congress, and other states such as New York, Washington D.C., and New Mexico have started experimenting with both options to help their local news publications. 

Brittney Barsotti, general manager of the California News Publishers Association, explained the tax bill and how journalists could benefit.

“The bill is based on compensating publishers for what Google and Meta are taking advantage of by measuring how much money they’re getting off of your content being accessed and displayed,” Barsotti said as she discussed other solutions looked into before the tax bill was created. “We’ve been working on different policies to try and keep the industry. Since I’ve been around in 2020, we’ve advocated for the tax credits and described an employer tax credit or the small business advertising credits.”

Barsotti pointed out that the policies fell through because even in a budget surplus year, tax credit at the federal level gets tricky because of the number of Republicans that are against it, making it difficult for the tax credit to gain progress in Congress.  

“We’ve established the minimum set aside for publications. We’re looking at either a per-journalist count or hybrid that is based on journalism and impressions.” Barsotti said. “We are hopeful that we can have answers sooner than later because the decline we are seeing in the industry is alarming.”