House Bill Seeks To Shore Up Local Journalism

It may not be signed into law soon, but Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. have introduced a bill called the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.

Among other things, the bipartisan measure would provide tax credits to local newspapers, subscribers and advertisers. 

“Local Journalism is a bedrock pillar of communities across the United States,” Kirkpatrick states. “Unfortunately, journalistic endeavors throughout the country face major economic struggles that put the future of many publications in serious jeopardy.” COVID-19 has made these problems even more severe, she notes. 

The goal is to “make sure these publications can sustain themselves through this crisis and beyond,” Kirkpatrick adds. The package includes:

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    A $250 subscription credit that would cover 80% of costs in the first year.

  • Subscribers who stick would receive a $500 credit in each of the following four years.

  • A local journalist compensation credit of $25,000 in the first year, covering 50% of a $50,000 salary. Then there would be a credit of $15,000 — or 30% — in each of the next four years. The person would have to work 100 hours per quarter to qualify as an employee. 

  • A $5,000 local newspaper and local media advertising credit, covering an estimated 80% of ad costs in the first year. It would total $2,500, or 50% of costs. To qualify, a small business would have to spend $6,250 and $5,000 in each of the respective periods. 

The newspapers and journalists would have to be focused primarily on local news to qualify.  

Newhouse argues by “providing tax credits for readers and small businesses and by empowering our local journalists, we can begin to help our small newspapers remain resilient and continue to provide in-depth perspectives that inform their readership regarding local current events.” 

Dean Ridings, CEO of America’s Newspapers, adds: “The Local Journalism Sustainability Act will provide meaningful assistance as newspapers seek to provide information in new ways to meet the needs of their audience.” 

4 comments about "House Bill Seeks To Shore Up Local Journalism".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 21, 2021 at 9:22 a.m.

    A lot of TV stations in smaller markets operate on a bare break even basis ---or in the red. Yet these stations also provide local news to their communities. Why not a similar bill for them?

  2. Mark Dubis from The Dubis Group, June 21, 2021 at 12:31 p.m.

    This is partisan politics at its worst.  Again government intrusion into the free markets.

    Politicians seem to focus on treating the symptoms and never looking to cure the problem.  Newspapers are challenged for a number of reasons and propping up a "dead horse" solves nothing. 

    Half the country has abandoned the leftist viewpoints of most newspapers. You want more clarity this is true.  In 2016, 57 newspapers endorsed Hillary Clinton and only 2 endorsed Donald Trump.  Clearly, these 57 newspapers weren't listening to their readers. 

    Maybe if these "journalists" embraced objective reporting they might be more successful. Instead, most city newspapers are nothing more than propagandists for the Democratic Party. 

    The daily news has moved online, to cable TV, to alternative news websites, and to social media channels. 

    This proposed bill is a last-ditch effort from lobbyists to save a dying business model. 

    Let these Newspapers evolve, compete with the new media channels, or die.  

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, June 21, 2021 at 5:56 p.m.

    Mark, your opening sentence could easiy describe the remainder of your post.

  4. Charles Pierce from Private replied, June 21, 2021 at 6:22 p.m.

    I recommend you read - or skim - the website for their 2020 report on Local News. It is not a party issue.

    The bi-partisan bill is more of industry lobbying response as Facebook and Google consumed all their advertising revenue and subscriptions can't make it up. Even without a newspaper (think of a newspaper as a CD that distrbutes news content, akin to defunct music industry) , the digital native sites are challenged. More and more news organizations are going non-profit while even the big newspaper chains - which are owned by private equity - are finding it challenging to make money or pay off their debt long-term.

    The editorial sections are separate from news reporting also. Now, I would agree the news industry is generally more politicized to the "Left" for lack of a better description.

    However, the death of local news is really big tech consuming all their revenue. Avid partisanship one way or the other won't revive the previous model of local news.

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