Over 80 journalists, journalism students, and professors answer DigBoston’s call to turn out
Amazingly, I’m on my first real vacation in four years this week. But I think it’s important to pen a truncated version of my usual column to thank the 80 plus people (about half of whom were journalism students… yay!) who showed up for the July 10 hearing on the bill proposing a state journalism commission, An Act Establishing a Commission to Study Journalism in Underserved Communities (S.80/H.181), before the Mass legislature’s Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses.
Jordan Frias of the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Laura Kiesel (who often writes for DigBoston among other larger publications), Brave Journalists 1 and 2 from a Big News Corporation That Shall Not Be Named, Marc Levy of Cambridge Day, Heather Franklin of Free Press Action, Prof. Tom Gardner of Westfield State University, Prof. William McKeen of Boston University, Dominga Martin of the Mass Poor People’s Campaign, and David Jacobs from the Boston Guardian, all joined me in giving testimony. Great job everyone!
And the response from the joint committee co-chairs Sen. Diana DiZoglio and Rep. Ed Coppinger, as well as the committee members present, was solid. They asked a lot of good questions of the testifiers, and seemed genuinely interested in the idea of establishing a Mass journalism commission.
It remains to be seen if the bill will make it out of the first committee, and move forward down the long road toward passage. But if it does pass—given that the bill’s lead House sponsor, Rep. Lori Ehrlich, spoke at the hearing and made clear that she was fine with the committee changing the composition of the proposed commission to better reflect its communities of interest—I think that it’s likely that the legislature will include more seats for working journalists, journalist organizations, and journalism professors from colleges around the Commonwealth. Which was the point of my pushing for a second hearing to begin with.
We’ll report on more developments as they happen. In the meantime, if readers would like to submit written testimony on the bill that would be helpful. Just drop an email in the form of a letter to the committee co-chairs at Diana.DiZoglio@masenate.gov and Edward.Coppinger@mahouse.gov.
For full coverage of the hearing, check out Sarah Betancourt’s article “Journalists describe low pay, long hours” in Commonwealth magazine.
Apparent Horizon—recipient of the 2018 and 2019 Association of Alternative Newsmedia Political Column Award —is syndicated by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Jason Pramas is BINJ’s executive director, and executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston. Copyright 2019 Jason Pramas. Licensed for use by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and media outlets in its network.