Rebuild Local News Applauds Senator Glazer's Transformative Local News Employment Credit Bill

RLN President Steven Waldman commends SB 1327 for its aim to revitalize community news in California, emphasizing its focus on medium and small-sized outlets and promoting editorial independence.

Statement of Steven Waldman, President of Rebuild Local News, on SB1327, May 1, 2024:

Sen. Glazer’s proposed local news employment credit would truly revitalize community news in California. It is a transformative proposal. It would dramatically improve the capacity of newsrooms to cover their communities, and is especially attentive to the role of medium and small sized outlets, including ethnic media. 

The number of journalists in California has dropped by a staggering 68 percent since 2005, leaving communities large and small without the information they need to address their problems. Studies show that the contraction of local news leads to worse services, higher taxes, more corruption, more pollution and perhaps most important of all, more polarization, which in turn paralyzes the ability of communities to function well.

An employment credit places the incentives in the right place: the hiring of local reporters. It’s non-bureaucratic. It helps for-profits and nonprofits, print, digital and broadcast, urban and rural. It’s future friendly so new innovators can also benefit from the program. And it does all this while being compatible with the First Amendment and the need to protect the editorial independence of news outlets.

Whether it’s done in combination with a revised version of the California Journalism Preservation Act or on its own, we think this bill is a major step forward.

As for the revenue source, we want to learn more about Senator Glazer’s bold idea of a “data extraction fee.” But we certainly believe it is fair and reasonable for the most successful of the technology companies to help pay for efforts to deal with some of the unintended negative consequences of the digital revolution and for the information infrastructure needed for a healthy democracy. We appreciate that this is the first major effort to explicitly tie a fee or tax idea like this to the need to address the local news crisis. As they continue to refine the idea, it’s crucially important to put in safeguards against this turning into a tax on advertisements on local news newspapers or websites, which would be counterproductive to the goal of helping revive local news.

We thank Sen. Glazer for pushing forward this package.