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PPP can help save the news you rely on

To the editor:

The HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act, which was introduced this week by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and a number of Senate members including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, helps struggling businesses across New York and the country by extending the much-needed U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. The legislation contains a number of provisions designed to help local small businesses to survive the pandemic, thereby saving jobs that are vital to every community’s future. It targets relief to the smallest businesses, including those with 10 or fewer employees, to sole proprietors and to the self-employed. It supports struggling nonprofit organizations. The legislation also provides for a second supplemental PPP loan for hard-hit businesses that have already exhausted funds from their first loan. But the legislation does more.

New Yorkers must continue to receive life-saving information about COVID-19 in their communities. Where can I get tested? Is there a “hot spot” in my town? Are the schools going to open? When will the local food pantry be open? These questions are answered every day by journalists working for local newspapers and broadcast stations. These local media outlets are an essential information lifeline during this pandemic. Citizens’ access to critical information from local newspaper and broadcast journalists is especially important as New York confronts a possible resurgence as cold weather keeps more New Yorkers indoors.

This legislation preserves citizens’ access to local news by enabling local newspapers and broadcasters to access funds through the Paycheck Protection Program to keep journalists and other support staff on the job. Local newspapers and broadcasters rely heavily on advertising by area businesses for revenue to pay employees, and with many businesses closed or operating at reduced capacity, news organizations’ ability to provide community news is at risk.

With assistance from the federal government, communities throughout New York state will have the opportunity to emerge when the virus has been defeated to find nearby restaurants, stores and theaters fully open for business. Local news organizations will be there to record and encourage the revival of civic life. Until that day, we must make sure all New Yorkers have access to the best information about how this dreaded disease is affecting local communities and neighborhoods.

The New York News Publishers Association and New York State Broadcasters Association Inc. commend Sen. Schumer for his leadership in supporting local journalism and his advocacy for preserving citizens’ access to accurate information about their communities.

David Donovan, president and executive director, New York State Broadcasters Association

Diane Kennedy, president, New York News Publishers Association

Albany

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