Maybe it’s fitting that a historic news scoop, on the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft Roe v. Wade decision, overshadowed World Press Freedom Day.

Politico broke the galvanizing story on Monday, May 2. May 3 is press freedom day as the United Nations declared in 1993, to annually remind governments “to respect their commitment to press freedom.”

The day is an opportunity to celebrate the principles of press freedom, assess the current situation, defend the media from attacks on its independence and pay tribute to fallen journalists, the U.N. explains.

In the U.S., President Joe Biden spoke Sunday about the importance of a free press and bipartisan resolutions recognizing widening threats to press freedom were introduced in Congress.

Reporters without Borders released its annual press freedom index, with a record 28 countries classified as “very bad.”

“Within democratic societies, divisions are growing as a result of the spread of opinion media following the ‘Fox News model’ and the spread of disinformation circuits that are amplified by the way social media functions,” it said in a bleak introduction. “At the international level, democracies are being weakened by the asymmetry between open societies and despotic regimes that control their media and online platforms while waging propaganda wars against democracies.”


The situation may have improved slightly in the U.S., which is now ranked 42nd among nations for press freedom, up from 44th last year. The survey methodology changed so you can’t give too much weight to year-over-year comparisons. But either way, it’s a dismal showing.

Resolutions and statements of support are important and much appreciated. But elected leaders urgently need to act on proposals in Congress to preserve a diversity of independent, local news sources.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act and Journalism Competition and Preservation Act will protect the local press from economic and competitive harm, with temporary tax credits to save newsroom jobs and antitrust measures to address unfair competition by dominant tech platforms.

More Lee Layoffs: Lee Enterprises, the Iowa-based newspaper chain battling a hostile takeover effort by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, is undergoing “huge layoffs,” Axios reports.

Reporters and photographers have been spared so far. More than 400 positions may be cut this year, or nearly 10% of Lee’s total head count, Axios reported.

Lee papers in the Northwest severely downsized in recent years. They include The Daily News in Longview, Washington, and dailies in Albany and Corvallis, Oregon.


Statehouse nonprofits: Pew Research is providing more details about its survey of statehouse reporting in the U.S., which found fewer full-time reporters covering state governments and a particularly steep decline in Washington state.

An update highlights a recent increase in nonprofit news organizations covering state capitols.

Pew found 80 such outlets, 39 of which were launched in the last five years. They employed 353 reporters who wrote about state government last year, including 187 full timers.

Newspapers remain the largest employer of statehouse reporters, with 245 full-timers and 448 overall in Pew’s new tally.

But nonprofits “are now the second-largest contingent,” Pew wrote.

Many provide general coverage of state news. But “they often focus on specific topics of coverage, such as immigration, education, the environment or health care,” the new report notes.

Television statehouse coverage held steady with 114 full-timers, down from 116 in 2014, while the number of full-time radio reporters covering state capitols fell from 83 to 77.

Overall, the number of full-time statehouse reporters continues to fall, from 904 in 2014 to 850 in 2022, Pew found.

This is excerpted from the free, weekly Voices for a Free Press newsletterSign up to receive it at the Save the Free Press website here.