Home Vermont Government, non-profit $$ promised to struggling Vermont media

Government, non-profit $$ promised to struggling Vermont media

Sen. Peter Welch chats with veteran reporter and VDC contributor Mike Donoghue

by Guy Page

Help is on the way to Vermont’s financially strapped local news media. 

Whether the shekels come with shackles remains to be seen.

The industry’s systematic financial woes are longstanding and well-known. Local and statewide media have been hit hard by the economic and media migration to the Internet. Main Street advertisers are both more scarce and increasingly drawn to online marketing. So are readers and radio listeners. 

Postal and printing costs are up. Vermont no longer has a single newspaper printer. Covid and the Flood delivered a one-two punch to an already reeling industry. 

News media organization staffing has declined 75% since 2000, falling from 1446 to 358 people. 

A plethora of solutions – some in force now, others just hopes and promises – were shared by state, federal and non-profit officials at the 3rd Annual Vermont Journalism Conference held at UVM and sponsored by the UVM Center for Community News. They include:

Federal legislation is in the works to slow rising postal costs and make Big Tech news aggregators pay news creators, U.S. Sen. Peter Welch told the crowd of about 150 Vermont news media reporters, editors, publishers and donors.

Postal costs comprise  an increasing share of the dwindling budgets for rural newspapers. 

In light of Welch’s February 2021 comment in a House committee hearing that market forces and advertising have helped create what he called polarization and disinformation, and calling for government intervention as a solution, VDC asked Welch if he knew of any plans to implement direct government subsidization of news media, much like CBC in Canada and BBC in the U.K. 

“I’m not aware of any now,” Welch said. He added that the question deserved a longer answer, which VDC will try to pursue with him.

State funding – Sen.Andrew Perchlik (D-Washington County), in a panel discussion, said he hopes to introduce legislation next year to fund awards for Vermont media performing good ‘civic journalism.’ 

Aware that reporters might shy from asking tough questions of lawmakers funding their paychecks, Perchlik said the funds – undetermined in size – would best be routed through an organization like UVM’s Community News Service, which this week announced $7 million in non-profit grants to expand its intern community news reporter program.

Government advertising in Vermont media – Perchlik said legislation is also in the works to require state government to advertise in Vermont publications. Vermont Secretary of State Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, also on the panel, said her office is already being more intentional about spending its advertising budget in Vermont media.

Non-profit funding – Vermont Press Forward is a Vermont Community Foundation collaboration with Press Forward, a $500 million national non-profit news media support network. (See related story in today’s edition.)

The afternoon panel will focus on other innovative funding solutions for Vermont media. 

The post Government, non-profit $$ promised to struggling Vermont media first appeared on Vermont Daily Chronicle.

The post Government, non-profit $$ promised to struggling Vermont media appeared first on Vermont Daily Chronicle.

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