Legal Update

FPA working to keep newspapers essential

We all have been hearing about various orders from state and local governments imposing business shutdowns or shelter-in-place programs within Florida.

In response, FPA has been reaching out to the Governor’s office and local governments and their trade associations urging them to recognize news publishing and reporting as “essential” to public health and welfare, and thus exempt from any business shutdown mandate.

We have reassured them that newspapers work closely with government officials to keep the public accurately informed during times of emergency and to convey accurate, reliable and critical information at a time of great need.   Our printed newspapers have millions of readers who rely on us as a lifeline to the community.   Additionally, our ability to publish digitally extends our reach far beyond our paid readership as most, if not all, of our members have taken down paywalls for COVID-related content so that readers can obtain critical health and local response information during this crisis.

We are heartened that, so far, newspapers have been identified as essential businesses and granted exemptions in other states and in the Florida local government orders we have seen.

The following are letters from FPA to the Governor and to the Florida Association of Counties and League of Cities.

Jim is also sending an email to legislators indicating efforts our members have been taking to help Florida citizens in this time of crises.

UPDATES:  Governor DeSantis said yesterday (3/24) at a press conference that he is leaving it to the 67 counties and 412 municipalities in Florida to determine the scope and extent of closure orders (outside of the few statewide closures he has ordered that target specific types of businesses).  These orders are being aggregated and updated by  the Shullman Fugate law firm, and can be found at their website at: https://www.shullmanfugate.com/other-news/2020/03/24/alert-florida-press-permitted-to-operate-as-usual-during-covid-19-outbreak/  Many thanks to Deanna Shullman and Rachel Fugate for this providing a central repository.