The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging its members to start making a habit of reading local newspapers, TV stations and magazines in a bid to expand their reach and keep up with their local news.
The chamber has already begun asking members for help in reading local news in their homes, including using apps like Feedly and Reddit, as well as local podcasts.
The chamber said Wednesday that it will use a $50,000 fund to help members read local news online through a partnership with the online news service, The Nation.
The nonprofit will match the chamber’s donations up to $1 million with content from local media outlets.
In the last three years, the chamber has given away $1.2 million to local media to reach new audiences.
The organization’s president and CEO, Richard Painter, said the chamber is not trying to replicate the advertising efforts of local TV stations or newspapers.
“There’s a certain amount of pressure that we can put on those that have already done it and the pressures are on the media,” he said.
“But we’ve been able to get ahead of that.”
The chamber said it’s looking for stories to focus on, as opposed to the news and gossip that many news outlets tend to run.
The national media industry, however, said it wants to stay ahead of the news cycle.
“As media organizations, we want to do the work of the business of the media, which is to deliver news and information that is relevant to the people,” said Peter Nicholas, a spokesperson for the American Association of Retired Journalists.
He said it should be part of a broader agenda of building relationships with readers.
“We believe the best way to serve our audiences is through content, not by relying on advertising,” he added.
But he acknowledged that in some cases it may be better to read the local news on a device, as it’s more convenient.
Nicholas said there’s nothing wrong with the idea of reading the local paper on a tablet or smartphone.
“We’re not trying for that,” he told reporters.
“If we’re not sure we want that content, we’re going to be willing to change our approach.”
He said the Chamber of Digital Commerce, which advocates for the digital economy, will be pushing to help companies make that change.
The group is working with media companies on how to help their audiences better consume local news, he added, including sharing stories from the digital space.