WASHINGTON—Many Americans were faced with two crises in recent weeks—the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the arrival of Hurricane Isaias—that according to former FEMA administrator Craigh Fugate only further stressed the importance of local broadcast and media to the communities they serve and reinforced the need for Congress to provide financial relief to these outlets.
Fugate, in a blog post on Medium.com, argues that while national media TV networks and newspapers offered coverage ahead of Hurricane Isaias hitting the Eastern seaboard, their efforts do not match “the immediacy and importance of local media outlets during times of emergency.”
“When the power goes out and cellular networks are rendered unusable, local media are often the only source of reliable information to learn what is happening and how to stay safe,” Fugate writes. “As emergency safety officials know through first-hand experience, broadcast radio and television stations and community newspapers are the best means to communicate with a wide audience before, during and after the storm passes.”
Fugate worries that because of the financial impacts of COVID-19, which have seen local stations hit particularly hard by the loss of advertising revenue, local media’s ability to cover future emergency situations.
This is why Fugate encourages Congress to enact The Local News and Emergency Information Act, as well as to include provisions in other COVID-19 stimulus relief efforts. He believes that this will help small broadcasters stay on the air and continue to serve their communities.
Read Fugate’s complete blog on Medium.com.
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