Sacramento Bee Seeks Crowdfunding to Pay for COVID-19 News Coverage

Sacramento Bee is accepting tax-deductible donations to boost its coverage of COVID-19 after the company’s revenue dipped due to the pandemic.

The company kicked off its crowdsourcing campaign on Thursday and had already collected about $20,000 from 306 people on Friday midday. “It’s mostly small donations,” said Lauren Gustus, Sacramento Bee editor.

The McClatchy Co., the newspaper’s parent company which also owns more than 30 newspapers, is in the midst of a bankruptcy auction and recently laid off some staff because of the pandemic-driven economic slowdown.

The donated money is administered through the nonprofit Local Media Foundation, affiliated with Local Media Association based in Lake City, Michigan.

Sacramento Bee is one of the near 200 newspapers that are raising money this way across the country. Local Media Foundation said it had received more than $500,000 over four weeks.

The California News Publishers Association said some newspapers have recorded declines of more than 70% since the pandemic. Two entertainment-oriented publications, the Sacramento News & Review and Submerge, reportedly ceased publishing in March after their revenue from restaurants, pubs and club advertisers plummeted.

The association also announced plans to introduce state legislation called the Save Local Journalism Act of 2020 which seeks to make newspaper subscriptions and advertising tax-deductible expenses. The legislation also seeks to exempt newspapers from paying sales taxes until the industry recovers from the current crisis.