(WASHINGTON)— PEN America today commended a resolution signifying April as Preserving and Protecting Local News Month (S.Res.651), introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).

Amid sustained waves of industry layoffs affecting the livelihoods of local journalists and burgeoning financial woes shuttering newsrooms nationwide, the resolution officially designates April 2024 as “Preserving and Protecting Local News Month,” recognizing local news as an essential public good and underscoring the importance of a robust and diverse local news ecosystem for American democracy.

“Throughout our nation’s history, local news has been a bulwark for holding power to account and advancing a pluralistic democracy that represents and includes all, irrespective of their background or status,” said Laura Schroeder, Congressional Affairs lead at PEN America. “The erosion of local news threatens our system of checks and balances and starves communities of the information required for democratic citizenship. In an election year already ushering in alarming levels of information manipulation, local news is a crucial line of defense worth fortifying. PEN America lauds Senator Schatz’s resolution, which reaffirms the indispensable nature of local news to our democracy.”

Hadar Harris, interim director of the PEN America Washington office, noted: “As we mark Preserving and Protecting Local News Month, there is no better time to pass the Saving Local News Act (H.R.7306) and the Community News and Small Business Support Act (H.R.4756). These bills are important steps towards helping local newspapers by supporting the financial viability of local news, ensuring their ability to deliver quality reporting – an essential component of supporting well-informed and civically engaged communities.”

Local news outlets continue to face daunting headwinds nationwide. In 2023, more than 21,400 media jobs were eliminated, and new data shows over 500 journalists were laid off in January 2024 alone. PEN America’s landmark 2019 report, Losing the News: The Decimation of Local Journalism and the Search for Solutions, roused a call to action to civil society and federal policymakers to address the decline of local journalism across the United States, resulting in the introduction of the Future of Local News Act led by Senator Schatz in the 117th Congress

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], (201) 247-5057