Submitted by Salish Current

Two nationally respected journalists and Washington state’s attorney general will speak on the importance of local journalism for healthy communities and democracy in a free online forum.

Slated for March 17, the online forum is sponsored by nonprofit newsroom Salish Current, serving Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan counties, in partnership with Village Books.

Themed “Trust 2022: Why Independent Local News is Important to a Strong Democracy,” the event will feature Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post media columnist and author of “Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy;” Bob Ferguson, Washington state attorney general and supporter of local journalism; and Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, documentarian and author of, among other books, “Who Stole the American Dream?”

The 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time event is open to the public and benefits Salish Current. Free registration is open on Zoom. See salish-current.org/trust2022 for more information. A donation of $100 or more with your registration entitles you to your choice of a book by one of the speakers, compliments of Salish Current.

The forum comes at a time when the number of daily and weekly newspapers in Washington state has declined 11% from 2004 to 2019, and the number of daily and weekly news readers has declined 37%.

The crisis of disappearing local news readership and news literacy has resulted in the proliferation of misinformation, political polarization and mistrust of democratic institutions. The forum will examine the consequences of shrunken newsrooms, absentee ownerships, and the death-throes of the legacy newspaper business model dependent on subscription and advertising revenue.

The two daily newspapers in Whatcom and Skagit counties and the weekly papers in Skagit and San Juan counties are owned by absentee corporations.

The forum addresses what can be done to bolster local news reporting and to rebuild trust in democratic institutions. It will also discuss how community support for nonprofit, independent community newsroom like Salish Current which are free to read and free from advertising can serve as a viable, innovative community resource.

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