America's Newspapers is taking a three-part approach with its advocacy efforts, members heard at last week's PIVOT 2020 virtual conference.
"We want to educate our members about relevant bills," CEO Dean Ridings said. Secondly, America's Newspapers wants to encourage action from the members. Ridings said the "primary power of our advocacy is our members' grassroots efforts" and having them reach out to their legislators to impact pending legislation. A third tool includes providing "analysis and insights so our members can inform their audiences about the isues and, hopefully, gain their support."
Ridings noted that these resources include ready-to-publish editorials, editorial cartoons, ads that explain the issues, plus relevant information so member newspapers can create their own content. America's Newspapers also works closely with the News Media Alliance to promote mutual goals.
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act and the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019 are two pieces of legislation that America's Newspapers is encouraging members to support.
Joining Ridings for this session at PIVOT were Alan Fisco, president of The Seattle Times Company and newly-elected president of America's Newspapers, and Francis Wick, president of Wick Communications.
Wick said: "I see this piece of legislation (Local Journalism Sustainability Act) focusing in on the real need to incentivize good behavior of owners, readers and businesses and ultimately to transform and invest in our organization so that we are transforming into a new business model that is stronger and more dynamic in the future. And, the best part ... this is not a handout. This all sunsets ... after five years."
Fisco says there is "a fair degree of confidence" that the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will be passed in the coming months. This legislation would give publishers a four-year safe harbor from antitrust laws to allow print and digital news companies to collectively negotiate with online content distributors.
"But then what?" Fisco said, stressing the need for the industry to speak with "a unified voice when we sit down to discussions with the Googles and Facebooks." America's Newspapers, he said, will stay close to this legislation as it evolves over the coming months.
View a recording of this advocacy session at PIVOT and learn how you can help protect the interests of the newspaper industry.