CCAN Action Fund says local news is essential for a healthy democracy and this first-in-the-nation program would be a key step forward.
Washington, DC—Today, prominent regional climate organization Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) Action Fund announced their full-throated support for the “Local News Funding Act.” This bill, recently introduced by DC Councilmembers Janeese Lewis George (Ward 4) and Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), would create a first-in-the-nation program to support local news producers in the District through vouchers distributed to DC residents.
Mike Tidwell, executive director of the CCAN Action Fund, stated:
“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and an informed citizenry is vital in addressing this global crisis. Local journalism plays a pivotal role in connecting the dots between climate change and the everyday lives of people in our communities. It not only raises awareness but also inspires action. This bill looks like an innovative step forward.”
The bill earmarks $11.5 million — 0.1% of DC’s annual budget — to support local news outlets through a voucher program. Each registered voter would receive five “news coupons” which they would then allocate to local news outlets and journalists.
Local news in DC has been declining in recent years with the Washington City Paper ending its print edition, Street Sense cutting back, the Washington Times slashing most of its local coverage, and the Washington Post considering massive employee buyouts in its Metro section. This trend is seen in greater scale across the country, where two newspapers are shuttering every week, and 200 counties have no local newspapers.
Tidwell added, “Democracy only works with an informed public. Without strong local journalism, people are increasingly turning to social media, which is a hotbed of divisive information and misinformation, prioritizing clicks over substance. We need more accountability in journalism, and funding local news is a great step in that direction.”
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CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.