From 2020 onwards, New York City’s public agencies will spend half—or more—of their yearly advertising budgets in local and ethnic news outlets, following an executive order by mayor Bill de Blasio.

Signed on Wednesday, the order seeks to support grassroots media publications and help diverse communities (particularly non-native English speakers) access information about public services.

Local news is disappearing from the US: by October 2018, over 1,300 communities nationwide had lost all local news coverage.

Across the globe, studies assert local journalism’s role in good governance.

Delivering locally-pertinent political news boosts voter turnout—while receiving Spanish-language local news increases Hispanic voter participation by 4 percent.

Civil society has responded by advocating governments invest directly in local news organisations, arguing citizens cannot make informed choices without reliable, relevant data.

Opponents fear government support will corrupt journalism. They point to Canada’s similar policy, criticised for propping up failed news models and benefiting paper owners rather than reporters.

Preserving journalistic independence is an equally thorny issue, since news production is either funded by new consumers, private corporations, or public agencies.

Ultimately, the debate hinges on whether accessing accurate, relevant news constitutes a public service—and who you prefer your outlets depending on.

Should regional councils subsidise local journalism?

   

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.