Salish Current hosting forum on the importance of local journalism

Posted February 15, 2022 at 9:06 am by

Sal­ish Cur­rent sends along this announce­ment about their March 17 pub­lic forum exam­in­ing local jour­nal­ism and its impact on democracy.

Two nation­al­ly respect­ed jour­nal­ists and Wash­ing­ton state’s attor­ney gen­er­al will speak on the impor­tance of local jour­nal­ism for healthy com­mu­ni­ties and democ­ra­cy in a free online forum.

Slat­ed for March 17, the online forum is spon­sored by non­prof­it news­room Sal­ish Cur­rent, serv­ing What­com, Skag­it, and San Juan coun­ties, in part­ner­ship with Vil­lage Books.

Themed “Trust 2022: Why Inde­pen­dent Local News is Impor­tant to a Strong Democ­ra­cy,” the event will fea­ture Mar­garet Sul­li­van, Wash­ing­ton Post media colum­nist and author of “Ghost­ing the News: Local Jour­nal­ism and the Cri­sis of Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy;” Bob Fer­gu­son, Wash­ing­ton state attor­ney gen­er­al and sup­port­er of local jour­nal­ism; and Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-win­ning jour­nal­ist, doc­u­men­tar­i­an and author of, among oth­er books, “Who Stole the Amer­i­can Dream?”

The 5:30 p.m. Pacif­ic Time event is open to the pub­lic and ben­e­fits Sal­ish Cur­rent. Free reg­is­tra­tion is open on Zoom. A dona­tion of $100 or more with your reg­is­tra­tion enti­tles you to your choice of a book by one of the speak­ers, com­pli­ments of Sal­ish Cur­rent.

The forum comes at a time when the num­ber of dai­ly and week­ly news­pa­pers in Wash­ing­ton state has declined 11% from 2004 to 2019, and the num­ber of dai­ly and week­ly news read­ers has declined 37%.

The cri­sis of dis­ap­pear­ing local news read­er­ship and news lit­er­a­cy has result­ed in the pro­lif­er­a­tion of mis­in­for­ma­tion, polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion and mis­trust of demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions. The forum will exam­ine the con­se­quences of shrunk­en news­rooms, absen­tee own­er­ships, and the death-throes of the lega­cy news­pa­per busi­ness mod­el depen­dent on sub­scrip­tion and adver­tis­ing revenue.

The two dai­ly news­pa­pers in What­com and Skag­it coun­ties and the week­ly papers in Skag­it and San Juan coun­ties are owned by absen­tee corporations.

The forum address­es what can be done to bol­ster local news report­ing and to rebuild trust in demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions. It will also dis­cuss how com­mu­ni­ty sup­port for non­prof­it, inde­pen­dent com­mu­ni­ty news­room like Sal­ish Cur­rent which are free to read and free from adver­tis­ing can serve as a viable, inno­v­a­tive com­mu­ni­ty resource.

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