The New York State Bar Association announced a new initiative Tuesday to support local news outlets amid a period of industry decline.

The bar association's initiative aims to highlight the crisis facing newspapers in the digital age and provide a legal perspective on issues facing news outlets. The association has pulled together a committee that includes several former judges and attorneys who represent media outlets, including David McCraw, deputy general counsel of The New York Times.

The number of newspapers across the state has decreased by 34 percent since 2004, according to a University of North Carolina study cited by the bar association. Many of the remaining newspapers have been forced to cut staff, reduce circulation and adopt numerous other cost-cutting measures.

McCraw said that because of the crucial separation of government and media, the role of the law to address the crisis is not clear.

“With a foundational element of democracy and civic culture in jeopardy, there is a compelling need to consider whether there are appropriate legal responses to the crisis," McCraw said.

The bar association is planning a series of meetings in New York City, Albany and Syracuse.

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