Rebuild Local News coalition backs bipartisan bill to preserve community journalism
Rebuild Local News, a coalition representing more than 3,000 local newsrooms, funders of local journalism, and civil society organizations advocating for a healthy free press, today placed its support behind the newly reintroduced Local Journalism Sustainability Act for the 117th Congress.
Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced the bipartisan bill that seeks to provide a pathway to financial viability for local newspapers around the country through a series of three tax credits that will encourage Americans to subscribe or donate to local publications, help those publications retain and compensate journalists, and provide small businesses money to advertise with local news organizations.
“Local journalism is a bedrock pillar of communities across the United States,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “Unfortunately, journalistic endeavors throughout the country are facing major economic struggles that put the future of many publications in serious jeopardy. These struggles existed before COVID, but the pandemic only made them more severe. We need to make sure these publications can sustain themselves through this crisis and beyond, and I believe the credits in this bill make significant progress in providing a pathway to that sustainability.”
“For many rural communities like ours in Central Washington, local news is the only way to receive important information and updates. Unfortunately, many of our locally-owned newspapers have been struggling to make ends meet,” said Rep. Newhouse. “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.”
The first tax credit works to incentivize annual subscriptions to local papers that primarily produce content related to local news and current events and can also be used for nonprofit publications. The second is a five-year credit for local newspapers to employ and adequately compensate journalists. The last of the three credits is a five-year tax credit that incentivizes small businesses to advertise with local newspapers, as well as local radio and television stations. Details about how the bill works can be found here.
“Local news is collapsing, threatening the health of communities and democracy. Reps. Kirkpatrick and Newhouse’s bottom-up approach is terrific — bringing serious help to local news organizations without allowing political favoritism or harm to the First Amendment,” said Steven Waldman, president of Report for America and coordinator of the Rebuild Local News coalition.
The Rebuild Local News Coalition is composed of organizations representing weekly newspapers, nonprofit websites, Black newspaper publishers, Hispanic publishers, independent news websites, free speech advocates, public radio stations, national nonprofit groups, daily newspapers and leading funders of local journalism innovation.
The bill has been endorsed by the following members of this coalition:
Local Independent Online News Publishers
Institute for Nonprofit News
National Association of Hispanic Publications
National Newspaper Publishers Association
Local Media Consortium
National Federation of Community Broadcasters
Report for America/The GroundTruth Project
American Journalism Project
Solutions Journalism Network
Lenfest Institute for Journalism
The legislation is one of the most bipartisan bills focused on helping local media. A similar version introduced last session attracted twenty Republican co-sponsors.
Learn more about the Rebuild Local News coalition and its policy proposals at rebuildlocalnews.org .
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Media contact: Sam Kille, firstname.lastname@example.org