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Local media under attack during pandemic

May 22, 2020 6:05 am
The local media is under attack across the country, with reporters getting punched, spat upon, and yelled at while covering news. Locally, several media outlets have closed, and more have laid off and furloughed staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Daily Star, the Oneonta-based daily newspaper announced April 13, it is going from a six- to five-day publication in its print and online editions. In March, Ulster Publishing suspended print publication of its newspapers, and the Catskill Mountain News closed. Nonprofit radio station WGXC has lost some community support during the pandemic. The Daily Freeman laid off four employees in April. Now Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson has attacked the local media this week on Facebook. Complaining about the Register-Star calling a candlelight vigil of 200 people he attended a "riot," he wrote, "They wonder why people don’t trust our local media." The Register-Star later corrected the headline and the online article, but left the riot headline on the URL for the story. But Johnson did not explain why he was attending a gathering of 200 people when that is not allowed in New York during the pandemic. Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore was the Register-Star's source of the "riot" report. Johnson did not fire Moore for that, and Moore did not take any action against Johnson for attending the event against the New York on PAUSE orders. (Johnson is a volunteer WGXC programmer. Click on the WGXC Newsroom here to hear Johnson's full reaction to the Register-Star story on the May 20 "WGXC Afternoon Show.") The news is not all bad for the local media, as demand for coverage is up, but advertising has dropped considerably. Now, though, The Columbia Paper announced May 21 that it will receive $5,000 from Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, and will resume publishing its print edition, perhaps as soon as June 4. The Columbia Paper stopped publishing a print edition in March, as advertising dried up with most business closed. In other coronavirus news, Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Murell said May 21 that public county buildings closures are extended through May 29. A state of emergency remains in effect in Columbia County until June 15. Columbia County reported five more COVID-19 cases May 21, for a total of 358. Greene County announced seven more coronavirus cases, up to 259.