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October 24, 2020
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Governor signs bill to protect newspapers, journalism

October 9, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill co-authored by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that grants a one-year extension for newspapers to comply with the state’s new gig-worker law, protecting the industry from financial crisis while ensuring the future of employees and journalism.

“I can’t imagine what it would have been like to go through a year like 2020 without our community newspapers informing us about what’s going on,” Sen. Dodd said. “They are essential to the future of our very democracy and we must do what we can to keep them operating. Thank you to Gov. Newsom for signing this important law.”

Many newspapers face an existential crisis. Nationwide, advertising revenue has declined by more than half over the past seven years, dropping from $25 billion in 2012 to $11 billion in 2019. The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation. Economists predict an additional 25 percent decrease in 2021 because of the associated economic shutdown. The demise of newspapers will mean lost jobs and a reduction in news coverage – from reporting on local school boards to news in our nation’s capital.

Assembly Bill 323, signed, extends the deadline for compliance with Assembly Bill 5, a new law requiring gig workers including newspaper carriers to be classified as full-time employees. Doing so would add an estimated 85 percent to newspaper distribution costs, forcing layoffs and newspaper closures. AB 323 gives newspapers until Jan. 1, 2022 to comply.  The bill further helps the industry by giving preference to local news organizations for state agency advertising and marketing contracts. 

AB 323 is authored by Assembly member Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, and is co-authored by Sen. Dodd, Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and others.

“We are extremely thankful for Sen. Dodd's unwavering dedication to and advocacy for free media," said Charles F. Champion, president and CEO of the California News Publishers Association. "His strong support and leadership were instrumental in the passage of AB 323, which will help preserve local journalism and protect community access to essential news and information during these unprecedented times."