Strong local journalism, strong communities
Ellis Jacobs | Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.
When people in Dayton heard that a hedge fund, Apollo, was going to buy most of the Cox media properties including the Dayton Daily News and the largest local TV station, a group swung into action. Together, we formed a coalition of community organizations and individuals who care deeply about local journalism, including Mayor of Dayton Nan Whaley, statewide organizations like Policy Matters Ohio and national groups like Free Press and Common Cause.
The coalition made sure the public knew a buyout was in the works and shared concerns about what hedge fund-owned newspapers meant in other markets like Akron, Canton, Cincinnati and Columbus. A Policy Matters report last year showed that readers can expect layoffs, consolidation and outsourcing as hedge funds try to wring every bit of profit out of the newspaper. Ultimately that means less in-depth local coverage of important issues.
We held a public meeting in July of 2019. Although we expected only 40 people, the meeting turned into a standing room only event with over 100. While the public ramped up the pressure, Common Cause successfully fought the merger in the courts. Apollo ended up selling the Dayton Daily News back to Cox, which promises to support the paper with needed resources.
Our coalition has stayed together and named ourselves Miami Valley Coalition for Strong Local Journalism. We are preparing to launch a project to assess the performance of the newspaper and other local media. The group drafted this letter to update the local community and let other communities around the country know that fighting to protect local journalism is important and even, sometimes, successful.
Ellis Jacobs is an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) Inc., and a member of the Miami Valley Coalition for Strong Local Jouirnalism.