Imagine the hope in newsrooms across the nation to know that a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate may resuscitate the news business on local levels.
New outlets, especially print media, have been suffering for decades. In the late 1990s, computers became a staple in homes and gathering information became easier than ever for readers. The introduction of smartphones, social media and apps helped hasten the downward slope of print. The pandemic was the final nail in the coffin of many magazines and newspapers across this nation as they saw advertising dollars diminish due to many businesses shutting down. Even if temporarily, they felt there was no reason to place an ad.
Sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, if passed, will help local newspapers as well as digital platforms and local radio and television stations on multiple levels, as subscribers, advertisers and news outlets will be able to take advantage of tax credits for five years.
Americans who subscribe to a local nonprofit news publisher will be eligible for a five-year credit of up to $250 annually. That credit means covering 80% of subscription costs in the first year and 50% in the following four years. That credit can even be used when making a donation to a local nonprofit news publishing company.
Businesses will have more financial flexibility to spend on advertising with local newspapers, television, radio stations and digital-only platforms as well as nonprofit news organizations with a five-year credit of up to $5,000 in the first year and up to $2,500 in the next four years.
Local news outlets will be able to retain and hire more journalists as their five-year credit will be up to $25,000 per journalist in year one and $15,000 in the following four years. This can cover 50% of compensation up to a $50,000 salary in the first year and 30% of the salary up to $50,000 in the last four years.
The federal government providing tax credits helps news outlets and, at the same time, keeps its distance by not being closely aligned to any media platform. This allows journalists to continue providing unbiased reporting.
For local publishers and journalists, whose job it is to keep readers up to date on what’s going on in their town and share their neighbors’ achievements, the task has become difficult as the number of newsroom employees has shrunk to a small percentage of what it once was and resources are stretched thin. At times the financial constraints prevent reporters to be everywhere they need to be to ask important questions.
So, it’s no surprise that many newspaper journalists support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act as the bipartisan bill can be the answer in helping to keep jobs.
One problem with tax credits is that they only go to businesses that show profits, because credits come off the top of the taxes they pay. Small businesses can have no profits or razor-thin ones at this time.
With that being said, we applaud our local congressmen Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) who are co-sponsors of the bill. And, we urge our readers who believe in local journalism to contact their federal representatives and ask them to support this act.