The LWV of the US adopts national position on local news and democracy

Submitted by the League of Women Voters of Washington

The League of Women Voters of the United States adopted a position in support of local news at its National Convention on Saturday, June 29, in Washington, D.C. An overwhelming majority of delegates from Leagues across the country agreed that the decline of local news affects democracy and voted to adopt the following position in brief:

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes it is the responsibility of the government to provide support for conditions under which credible local journalism can survive and thrive.

The LWVUS 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.

The new national position developed from a study by Washington League members. The study tracked the decline of local newspapers statewide and nationally and found that democracy is directly related to credible sources of local news. To read the study from Washington’s League, visit our website.

“The way we get local news has changed since the internet became part of our everyday lives,” said Mary Coltrane, president of the League of Women Voters of Washington. “However, the way local news affects our democratic institutions has not changed. Voters must be able to access credible and ethical local news so that they can make decisions about how elected officials govern their communities.”

The LWVWA study showed that a third of the nation’s newspapers are expected to close by the end of this year. More than 200 counties are now considered “news deserts,” with no source of reliable local news.

The study also found that democracy suffers in communities with no credible source of local news: fewer people vote or run for office, and political polarization and government corruption grow. “These are outcomes democracy cannot withstand,” said LWVWA President Mary Coltrane.

The federal government’s historic support of the news industry dates to 1792 when postage subsidies allowed newspapers to be distributed at greatly reduced rates. A variety of currently proposed remedies at both the federal and state levels include tax credits, grants, and collective bargaining with tech giants to compensate newspapers for distribution of their original news content.

The newly adopted position was supported by dozens of state Leagues across the United States. To gain concurrence and adopt the national position, the LWVWA conducted a multi-year study on the topic, adopted the position at the state level, and then proposed the concurrence with the support of many other state Leagues. The LWVWA is proud to have the position adopted nationally and is ready to continue the work to improve local news and democracy in Washington.

Visit to find the detailed position and the state study, “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy.” The study is also available on Amazon.

About LWV of Washington

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. With over 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s oldest and most trusted civic nonprofit organizations.