WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, 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 bill 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 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 rural communities.”
“Now more than ever, we are witnessing disparities of all kinds across the United States, and the ability of local journalism to withstand current economic conditions is one of them,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “Big cities may have strong papers, whereas smaller, perhaps more rural towns’ papers might be struggling with journalistic output. We need to support local journalism and provide papers with options — after all, they are fundamental to American daily life and deserve to be treated as such.”
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 incentivize annual subscriptions to local papers that primarily produce content related to local news and current events. 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 incentivizes 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.
Click HERE for the full text of the bill.