State Rep. Lori Ehrlich and State. Sen. Brendan Crighton have teamed up to file a bill addressing diversity in journalism.
The bill H.181 would establish a commission to study journalism in underserved communities. The bill has been sent to the committee on community development and small businesses. If approved there will be a non-binding study relative to communities underserved by local journalism in Massachusetts; review all aspects of local journalism including, but not limited to, the adequacy of press coverage of cities and towns, ratio of residents to media outlets, the history of local news in Massachusetts, print and digital business models for media outlets, the impact of social media on local news, strategies to improve local news access, public policy solutions to improve the sustainability of local press business models and private and nonprofit solutions, and identifying career pathways and existing or potential professional development opportunities for aspiring journalists in Massachusetts.
“The commission shall consist of the following 17 members: two of whom shall be the House and Senate chairs of the joint committee on community development and small business; one member of the House of Representatives, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; one member of the Senate, to be appointed by the President of the Senate; two of whom shall be appointed by the Governor; one of whom shall be a representative of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University; one of whom shall be a professor at Northeastern School of Journalism; one of whom shall be a representative of the Schuster Institute of Journalism at Brandeis University; one of whom shall be a member of the Boston Association of Black Journalists; one of whom shall be a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; one of whom shall be a member of the Asian American Journalists Association of New England; one of whom shall be an editor at Commonwealth Magazine; one of whom shall be a member of the New England Newspaper and Press Association; one of whom shall be a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Association; one of whom shall be a member of the Ida B. Wells Society and one of whom shall be the director of the Journalism Lab at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. All appointments shall be made no later than 30 days following the effective date of this resolve.”
“It’s a pressing issue just given the time we live in. We have a President and others who are just demonizing the media on a regular basis and trying to discredit something that’s really one of the strongest forces in our democracy,” Crighton said in a Lynn coffeehouse, adding there has been a lot of support.
“This is about stories and the local media is part of the fabric of the community,” Ehrlich said.