Local Leagues begin consensus process on news decline study

02 Jan 2023 12:23 PM | Anonymous

by Dee Anne Finken and Delores Irwin, LWVWA Journalism Study Co-Chairs

Fewer candidates running for local offices, fewer citizens voting in local races, and challenges for public health-- these are just a few of the developments playing out across the country as local newspapers decline.

League of Women Voters members are learning the state of Washington isn't immune to these concerns and others as they dig into "The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy," a two-year League study completed late last year by a committee of ten League members from throughout the state. The study is the result of interviews with more than 50 scholars, elected officials, government leaders, journalists, and other interested parties. In preparing their report, study committee members also reviewed more than 500 documents.

"After studying the national reports that indicated the news crisis is linked to a number of areas of concern, our study committee's task was to investigate whether similar trends are happening in our state," said Haught. 

The state board approved the study in mid-November and it is now before local Leagues throughout Washington as individual units begin the consensus process that ultimately will determine if the League should develop a policy to support local news.

"The essence of consensus and being a grass-roots organization is member dialogue," explained Lunell Haught, LWVWA president. "Consensus relies on using each member’s judgment, informed by a study, to develop a position that can be used in advocacy and public education. The League is unique in this process. It means the voice of the members is at the forefront of League work. For the League, consensus indicates what members agree on, or can 'live with.'"

The state consensus is crafted from local League consensus and will be adopted by the board and affirmed by delegates at the May 4-7 Convention in Pasco.

To help with the effort, news study committee members are sharing key findings of the study via Zoom briefings. Besides a reduction in local candidates and voters and public health concerns, the study has identified links to reduced community involvement and higher costs for publicly financed construction projects.

On Saturday, January 21 at 10 AM, the study group will also present a briefing to League members statewide via Zoom. There will be time for questions and answers, as well as discussion.

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

League of Women Voters of the United States

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software