A provision authored by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in the bipartisan COVID-19 stimulus package will make thousands of local newspapers, radio and television broadcasters eligible for federal support through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Locally, the provision will make over 100 local media outlets across Washington eligible for PPP funds.
“Local news is essential. It makes our communities – and our country – stronger by asking important questions, providing accurate facts, and countering misinformation and disinformation,” Cantwell stated in a press release. “This bill will make more newspapers, TV and radio stations, and public broadcasters eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program so local reporters can keep us informed.”
Cantwell’s provision fixes an affiliation rule in which local news outlets owned by larger parent companies were not allowed to access PPP funds. The provision will allow for newspapers with less than 1,000 employees, and television and radio stations with less than 500 employees access to funds.
By the end of 2020, analysts estimate overall newspaper revenue has dropped by 70% compared to 20 years ago, according to the press release. Since 2005, newspapers have lost more than 40,000 newsroom employees, which is about 60% of their workforce.