By Josh St. Clair February 23, 2018 12:07:19The St Louis Public Press has a very simple message for the people of Missouri: Stay the course.
The news outlet has not published a single article since March 4, when the paper’s newsroom was shut down.
On Tuesday, the Missouri House approved a bill to revive the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which is the only independent media outlet in the state.
The bill, which was signed by Governor Jay Nixon on Friday, would restore the newspaper to its former glory, which included news coverage of the civil rights movement and the 2008 election.
The legislation, which passed both chambers by a vote of 94-5, also restores the Stouis’ status as a statewide newspaper and establishes a “district office” in St. Joseph, where it was once located.
The bill also makes Missouri the 13th state to make news more broadly available to the public, a move that is likely to increase the number of journalists and editors at local newspapers and other news outlets across the state and help the newspaper continue to grow.
“The Missouri House today passed a bill that will restore the St Charles Post-Examiner and make it the only statewide newspaper in the State of Missouri to publish news on its website,” said Rep. Jim Wilson, R-St. Louis, in a statement.
“The St. Charles Post is the first and only local news outlet in Missouri to do so, and the bill ensures that it will continue to publish original news and information about local issues.
The St. Chuckens are the only local newspaper in Missouri that can publish news online and on their website.”
The bill, the fourth in the current legislative session, would create a new state news division and would allow for a newspaper’s executive editor, who would oversee editorial decisions, to be appointed by the governor.
The new department would include the St-Louis Post-Times’ editorial director, managing editor and other employees.
It would also create an independent public relations department.
Rep. John Morgan, D-Stouis, was among the lawmakers who voted against the bill, saying the newsroom should be more than a news outlet.
“I think this is a step backward for the StLouis Post.
The newspaper has gone through many challenges and I think it needs to do more,” Morgan said.
“It’s not a news organization.
It’s a newspaper.”
The StLouis Gazette-Journal was once a major newspaper in St Louis and its staff was the largest in the entire state.
Its newsroom is now housed in a warehouse, and its website and social media platforms are still unavailable.
Reporters, editors, photographers, writers and photographers at other local newspapers also faced shutdowns and layoffs after Nixon signed the legislation into law in 2015.
That year, the New York Times fired two staffers who worked at its newsroom in New York City after Nixon banned them from the news division.
In February 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported that several journalists at the Tribune had been forced to retire.
The Missouri bill, however, was the first time the legislature has revived a newsroom within the Stetson County Public Press in nearly 20 years.
“I think the public has seen the value of the Stltons work in StLouis and the value in Stltos work in the Stokes County public press,” Rep. Dan Jones, R/S/C-4, said in a prepared statement.
“Rep. Jim Wallace, R.A. (Rep. Wilson) and I are thrilled to reintroduce this bill that gives the Stlouis Public Press the resources and the independence to provide the most complete coverage of local, state and national events in the public interest.”
Rep. Ed Martin, R – St Louis, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he hopes to see other Missouri newspapers open up to the wider public.
“While there are a lot of things that we can do to preserve this newspaper and its reporters, I do hope that we will have other independent local news outlets in Missouri and that they will have a voice in the legislative process,” Martin said.
Reporter and photographer Dan Hines, a staff writer for the Associated Press, told the St Louises Post-Register that the St Louis Press has been working hard to regain its independence.
“We are a paper that does the same kind of reporting as all the other newspapers that exist in the county,” he said.
The paper’s executive director, Mike McDonough, said the news is still available to subscribers and to the general public, but he hopes other local media outlets will follow suit.
“We are committed to preserving our independence and our ability to produce news that the community cares about, and we will continue that mission with the StLouis Post-Gazette and the Sts Louis Daily News,” McDonoug said.