It’s been a tough decade-plus for local media. Since 2008, US newsroom employment has fallen by 26 percent, a crisis that accelerated last year, when publications had to reduce their already meager staffs. One study estimates that journalism layoffs more than doubled in 2020, and dozens of outlets have ceased publication entirely since the start of the pandemic.
These cutbacks are hitting local media hardest. Here in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, the past few years have seen the shuttering of several longtime local newsweeklies and layoffs at larger daily papers. At the same time, the need for reliable local reporting has never been more clear—nor more urgent. Into the void of local news has flowed partisan hyperbole, unverified social media posts, and harmful disinformation. The ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the perilous threats posed by climate change, the reinvigorated struggle for social and racial equity: all of these are huge stories playing out on the community level.
Fortunately, there is a lot of energy being put toward ensuring local journalism remains alive and well. And that’s happening here, as well. In this roundtable discussion, we’ll talk with journalists and publishers who are working on new models of journalism, or reimagining existing publications to ensure they remain vital to their readers.
Tim Bruno, general manager, WJFF Radio Catskill
Chip Rowe, editor, The Highlands Current
Alex Shiffer, publisher, Kingston Wire
Genia Wickwire, associate publisher, Ulster Publishing
Peter Kramer, reporter, USA Today Network and Hudson Valley News Guild Member
Phillip Pantuso, managing editor, The River Newsroom
Lissa Harris, staff writer, The River Newsroom