THE NEW YORK TIMES — May 20, 2021 — At a time when newsrooms nationwide are laying off reporters and some are closing down, a program begun by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been helping to sustain small, independent media outlets in every corner of the city.
In May 2019 he signed an executive order requiring city agencies to direct at least half their budgets for digital and print advertising to community newspapers and websites. These media outlets are often their communities’ most trusted sources of information. They publish in more than 30 languages throughout the five boroughs, serving immigrants, ethnic and religious groups and communities of color.
It has been a resounding success.
More than 220 of these news organizations received ads from 51 city agencies and departments totaling nearly $10 million in the program’s first year, according to a report from the Center for Community Media at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. During a period that included a census count, a presidential election and the pandemic, the ads provided a way for the outlets to get critical information to New Yorkers who don’t always consume English-language news from the city’s big daily papers or commercial TV and radio stations.
Just as important, these ads from the city kept small news outlets alive when their usual sources of advertising — local businesses — dried up during the economic crash caused by the pandemic. “Without advertising from city agencies, many of us would not have survived the pandemic,” 59 editors and publishers wrote in an open letter to city and New York State officials.
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