Submitted by the League of Women Voters.
The local news crisis and its impact on Washington is the focus of the May 25 episode of TVW’s “Inside Olympia,” the state’s longest-running public affairs program. The hourlong segment hosted by Austin Jenkins will air at 7 p.m. and report on the findings of “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy,” a two-year study by the League of Women Voters of Washington.
“Local news outlets play a crucial role in the functioning of democratic societies—they keep citizens informed of the key issues within their communities and provide important checks on governmental power,” said Mary Coltrane, president of the League of Women Voters of Washington. “Our study shows the very real costs of the loss of local journalism on communities. We are proud of this study and hope that it will provide the impetus for our state to take action to strengthen and grow this important civic resource.”
Since 2008, Washington state has lost 20 of its weekly newspapers and three dailies. It has also lost 67 percent of its newsroom staff. The League study determined newspaper closures and reductions in coverage and staffing throughout Washington have resulted in the same negative impacts seen nationally since the crisis began in about 2008. Those impacts include reduced voter participation, fewer candidates for local public office, challenges to public health campaigns, increased political partisanship, less community involvement, and increased costs in government.
The study features the insights of more than 50 individuals, including professors, researchers, elected officials, journalists, publishers, civic leaders, public health officers, and others. As a result of the study, the 2,400-member League has developed a public policy position calling for the support of conditions under which credible local journalism can survive and thrive.
The segment features an interview with Lunell Haught, immediate past president of the League, and Dee Anne Finken, a co-chair of the committee that conducted the study, which is available for download on the League website at https://www.lwvwa.org/resources/Documents/Studies/LocalNews/Decline%2036.pdf.