Local Journalism Sustainability Act introduced in the U.S. Senate

Colorado Media Project
Colorado Media Project

The Colorado Media Project is excited to share some news from our friends at the Rebuild Local News Coalition – which represents more than 3,000 local newsrooms, funders of local journalism, and civil society organizations advocating for a healthy free press. 

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act – which would help support local news organizations through tax credits for local newspapers, digital publications, television and radio – was jointly introduced yesterday by the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Ron. Wyden (D-OR), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ). The legislation mirrors a similar bill introduced in the House by Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), which has strong bipartisan support. 

“Local news is a public good that all Coloradans must play a role in sustaining,” said JB Holston, founder of the Colorado Media Project. “This bill would put money in the hands of taxpayers, and empower Coloradans to make choices about which journalists and local news sources are keeping them informed, engaging them in important civic conversations, and holding the powerful to account.” 

The bill would provide three tax credits: Up to $250 for consumers to either subscribe to a local newspaper or donate to a local nonprofit news organization. Consumers must put in some of their own money to get the full benefit. A five-year tax credit for local news organizations to employ journalists (creating an incentive to retain them on staff even if other cutbacks are necessary). A five-year tax credit that incentivizes small businesses to advertise with local newspapers, as well as local radio and television stations. 

“This is a hugely important step to help strengthen communities, by addressing the collapse of local news,” said Steven Waldman, president of Report for America and chair of the Rebuild Local News Coalition. “When local news goes down, it leads to more waste, corruption, pollution, and polarization. Stronger local news leads to greater civic engagement and ability to solve local problems. This nonpartisan bill — which empowers consumers, small businesses and local publishers — will help create better local news, without endangering the editorial independence of journalists.” 

“When local news dies, the void gets filled in with disinformation” said Fanny Miller, president and CEO of El Latino San Diego. “Keeping local news strong is the first line in defense of democracy.” 

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