Yesterday, Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) reintroduced the “Local Journalism Sustainability Act” to create tax credits designed to empower citizens, small businesses, and newsrooms to sustain and support local news.
These tax credits should encourage consumers to buy local news subscriptions or donate to nonprofit news organizations, help newsrooms retain journalists, and motivate small businesses to buy advertising in local media. More than three million Americans lack access to a local paper while many more are limited to just one local outlet. The pandemic has increased readership, but accelerated the decline in revenue. Public Knowledge has consistently advocated for policies to sustainably fund newsgathering, mitigate the impact of disinformation on digital platforms, and protect the democratic benefit of a thriving free press — a key pillar of our democracy.
The following can be attributed to Lisa Macpherson, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:
“The decline in local news has reached a crisis point, and it’s time for bold action by policymakers. The numbers that refer to news deserts and laid-off reporters are both really shocking — and really dangerous. The Local News Sustainability Act empowers citizens and small businesses to support local journalism while encouraging news organizations to actually retain or hire those who report and produce the news.
“There are sound reasons to be cautious about government involvement in news, which is why a broad coalition of local news organizations has put forward principles for policy solutions that are content-neutral, nonpartisan, and ensure editorial independence for news organizations. Policies should also be future-friendly, designed to help legacy media as well as the innovators developing new and non-commercial business models for journalism, regardless of platform. And it should be designed to put more reporters on the beat. The Local News Sustainability Act incorporates these essential elements.
“This bill should be one of several solutions that build a bridge from the current crisis to a healthy, vibrant news ecosystem rooted in the needs of communities. We applaud Reps. Newhouse and Kirkpatrick for stepping up once again to champion the needs of newsrooms and consumers. We urge members of Congress to support this bill to bolster local news while ensuring editorial independence.”
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