Max Hirsch and Dan Miller Review the “Save Local Journalism Act” as Published by Daily Journal
Daily Journal Special Report published January 15, 2021: New Laws 2021 (log-in required)
A review of Assembly Bill 323 by Max Hirsch and Dan Miller has been published by the Daily Journal in its “New California Laws” supplement that includes laws passed during the California Legislature’s 2020 legislative session.
We are in an age of declining print journalism, with many local newspapers closing, and many in the public losing confidence in the industry. And unlike more well-heeled industries like ride hailing and delivery services which bought an exemption to AB 5, the newspaper industry could not afford to sponsor a proposition on the ballot. AB 323 should help local newspapers—already under pressure from the shift away from print journalism—from suffering another financial hit.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 323, the Save Local Journalism Act, into law to grant newspapers an extra year to meet certain labor standards. AB 323 was written in response to AB 5, which outlawed businesses from using independent contractors unless they could meet certain requirements to keep them from being classified as employees.
AB 5 applied to many workers that news organizations largely relied on to physically deliver newspapers. The worker reclassification under AB 5 created many potential issues, including raising expenses for newspapers, forcing newspapers to severely reduce print delivery, especially in harder-to-reach areas, and likely increasing subscription costs.
Passing AB 323 will help preserve community newspapers for another year. It expands the temporary exemption for newspaper carriers’ classification from complying with AB 5 until January 1, 2022, and deletes the requirement that, to get the exemption, newspaper carriers must work under contract with a newspaper publisher or distributor. It also requires California agencies to evaluate and report on how communication efforts are reaching “ethnic residents, including, but not limited to, Latino, African American, Asian-Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and Middle Eastern communities, and its LGBTQIA residents.”
The bill took effect on January 1, and news organizations are breathing a sigh of relief for now.