New bill aims to support local newspapers, advertisers and subscribers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, July 16 Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, a bipartisan bill that helps preserve community journalistic endeavors throughout the United States. Joining Reps. Kirkpatrick and Newhouse as original cosponsors of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act are Reps. Fitzpatrick, Souzzi, Welch, R. Davis, McKinley P.E., Visclosky, Peterson, Harder, Heck, Takano, Carson, Fleischmann, Grijalva, Lynch, and Weber.
Local news publications already faced financial difficulties before the onset of COVID-19. Now, in the wake of the severe economic consequences of the pandemic, the industry is facing further challenges to remaining sustainable.
“Local Journalism is a bedrock pillar of communities across the United States,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “Unfortunately, journalistic endeavors throughout the country are facing major economic struggles that put the future of many publications in serious jeopardy. These struggles existed before COVID, but the pandemic has only made them more severe. We need to make sure these publications can sustain themselves through this crisis and beyond, and I believe the credits in this bill make significant progress in providing a pathway to that sustainability.”
“Local journalists and newspapers are essential to ensuring the public remains informed,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Local news is crucial – particularly within our rural communities in Central Washington – and our local journalists provide in-depth perspectives that inform their readership regarding local current events. Unfortunately, due to transforming business models and changes to advertising mediums, many of our locally owned newspapers have been struggling to make ends meet, and the pandemic has only exacerbated their situation. By providing tax credits for readers and local businesses and by empowering our local journalists, we can begin to help our newspapers remain resilient and continue to provide important information and updates to our communities.”
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act offers a series of three tax-credits aimed at sustaining and providing a pathway to viability for the local journalism industry in the years to come. The first credit works to reduce annual subscriptions by up to 80 percent for local papers that produce content related to local news and can also be used for non-profit publications. The second credit is a five-year refundable credit for local newspapers to employ and adequately compensate journalists. The last of the three credits is a five-year non-refundable tax credit that reduces advertising costs up to 80 percent for small-to-medium sized businesses to advertise with local newspapers, as well as local radio and television stations.
The proposed credits in the Local Journalism Sustainability Act will encourage Americans to subscribe to local publications, help those publications retain and compensate journalists, and provide businesses and publications alike with much-needed advertising dollars.
The COURIER will continue to follow and report on this story as news develops. We encourage all our readers to contact a member of Congress to help support this bill. If passed, it not only ensures the COURIER will continue to report local news for years to come, but significantly lowers costs for advertisers and subscribers.