The Boston Business Journal today published an editorial supporting the creation of a state commission to study the decline of local journalism in Massachusetts and to offer some recommendations. The bill is currently being considered by legislators in the form of a House amendment to the economic bond bill. The editorial is behind a paywall, but I have a workplace subscription. Here’s the kicker:

This amendment is just a first step, but a necessary one, to understanding what’s driving the steady decline in local journalism and what can be done to strengthen it again. We urge lawmakers to make this small investment in the future of our state’s democracy. It’s time to make local journalism a priority and endorse the amendment.

The editorial also references a letter of support that my colleagues and I at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism sent to the six members of the conference committee this week. If you’re so inclined, you can send emails to their offices. The House directory is here, and the Senate directory is here. The conference committee members are:

  • Sen. Eric Lesser, co-chair
  • Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, co-chair
  • Sen. Michael Rodrigues
  • Sen. Patrick O’Connor
  • Rep. Aaron Michlewitz
  • Rep. Donald Wong

Ongoing kudos to Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, who has been pushing for this measure for nearly two years. I’ve provided some assistance, and would be a member of the commission as the language is currently written.

I understand why some people are skeptical about the government getting involved in questions about the financial viability of local news. My response is that this is a modest step. I’d like to see an effort to identify independent local projects that are succeeding, find out what makes them tick and come up with some ideas to encourage more people to launch such projects in their own communities.

Comments are open. Please include your full name, first and last, and speak with a civil tongue.

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