Local news reporting plays a pivotal role in the health of our communities—and our democracy.
Extensive research, including a two-year study by the League of Women Voters of Washington, reports on the benefits of credible news sources that keep us up to date about what’s happening in our neighborhoods, at City Hall, in boardrooms and workplaces, in our schools and on our sports fields: Because of their reporting, we’re more likely to vote, be more engaged in our communities, see more candidates seek office, and be less likely to hold polarizing political viewpoints.
Studies also show a link between quality local news coverage and stronger public health campaigns and better oversight of government spending.
After thorough study and discussion known as reaching consensus, the 2,400-member League adopted a public policy on local news: “The League of Women Voters of Washington believes it is the responsibility of the government to provide support for conditions under which credible local journalism can survive and thrive.”
Several factors prompted the League’s study, “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy,” and the subsequent adoption of our public policy position. Among them was Washington’s loss of three daily and more than two dozen weekly newspapers between 2005 and 2022. Also motivating our efforts is newsroom staffing across the state decreased by two-thirds, resulting in considerably less coverage.
In the League’s call for support for local news, we don’t distinguish between news published in print on paper or online: “The League supports credible and ethical local journalism, in whatever format it is published, as essential to our democracy.” Important, too, is that regardless of the source of support or assistance, the League is adamant that “control of a publication’s content must remain exclusively with the news organization.”
Check back regularly to this page to learn more about our efforts to pursue this important mission—and how you can be involved.
“The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy” is available for download as a free PDF .
The study also can be purchased as a paperback book for $9.52 from Amazon.com and for $1.99 as a Kindle edition, also from Amazon.com .
The use or distribution of this study by individuals or other organizations does not constitute the League’s endorsement.
We provide these links about developments related to local news because of the LWVWA newly adopted position. As our recent study “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy” found, local newspapers play a crucial role in supporting healthy communities and healthy democracies. LWVWA encourages you to subscribe to your local paper if you are able.
Position in Brief
The League of Women Voters of Washington believes it is the responsibility of the government to provide support for conditions under which credible local journalism can survive and thrive.
The League of Women Voters of Washington defines local news as accurate, in-depth coverage of government entities, including but not limited to, city councils, county councils, county boards of commissioners, health departments, schools, and school boards.
LN-1: The League supports credible and ethical local journalism, in whatever format it is published, as essential to our democracy.
LN-2: The League of Women Voters of Washington supports efforts to ensure everyone has access to information necessary for casting an informed ballot and that credible local news sources are integral to this pursuit.
LN-3: The League of Women Voters of Washington believes that support for the viability of local news may take a variety of forms. Control of the content must remain exclusively with the news organizations.
LN-4: The League of Women Voters of Washington also believes media literacy and news education, including support for journalism students, is essential. These opportunities should be expanded in schools and throughout communities.
LN-5: The League of Women Voters of Washington believes that everyone should have access to comprehensive, credible local news and that barriers to access should be removed. These barriers include, but are not limited to, geography, economic status, and education.
Would you like a representative from the League’s local news study committee to speak to your organization or at a community event? Learn how to request a speaker from the League.