MA HOUSE No. 5250
“An Act to encourage new development and usher in a recovering economy”
January 6, 2021
SECTION 93. (a) There is hereby established a special legislative commission, pursuant to section 2A of chapter 4 of the General Laws, to study journalism in underserved communities in the commonwealth. The commission shall: (i) conduct a comprehensive study relative to communities underserved by local journalism in the commonwealth; (ii) review all aspects of local journalism including, but not limited to, the adequacy of press coverage of cities and towns, ratio of residents to media outlets, print and digital business models for media outlets, the impact of social media on local news, strategies to improve local news access, public policy solutions to improve the sustainability of local press business models and private and nonprofit solutions, and identifying career pathways and existing or potential professional development opportunities for aspiring journalists in the commonwealth.
(b) The commission shall consist of the following 23 members: the chairs of the joint committee on community development and small business, who shall serve as co-chairs; 1 member of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker; 1 member of the senate appointed by the senate president; 1 member who shall be a professor at the Northeastern School of Journalism; 1 member who shall be a member of the Boston Association of Black Journalists; 1 member who shall be a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; 1 member who shall be a member of the Asian American Journalists Association of New England; 1 of who shall be a representative from the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association; 11 members to be appointed by the chairs: 2 of whom shall be representatives of public colleges or universities of the commonwealth with either a journalism or communications program, 1 of whom shall be a representative of a private college or university of the commonwealth with either a journalism or communications program, and 8 of whom shall be currently employed or freelance journalists, editors or producers from independent community news outlets from across the commonwealth; provided, that the appointees shall represent communities underserved by professional news organizations, rural communities, immigrants communities, working-class communities and communities of color; 3 members to be appointed by the governor who shall be representatives of journalism unions or associations; provided, that the appointees shall be selected from the following unions and associations: (i) the NewsGuild-Communication Workers of America, (ii) the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, (iii) the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America, (iv) the Association of Independents in Radio, (v) the Boston Chapter of the National Writers Union, (vi) the New England Newspaper and Press Association, or (vii) the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. All appointments shall be made no later than 30 days following the effective date of this act.
(c) The commission shall hold public information sessions in order to promote the work of the commission and to solicit public comment pursuant to the work of the commission.
(d) The commission shall accept written and oral comment from the public beginning at the first meeting of the commission.
(e) The commission shall meet no less than 5 times to review, study and analyze existing literature, quantitative and qualitative data on the status of journalism in the commonwealth and review the oral and written public comments.
(f) No later than August 1, 2021, the commission shall submit its findings, along with recommendations for legislation, if any, to the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate and the joint committee of community development and small business.
(g) The special commission may make such interim reports as it considers appropriate.