An unprecedented bill is currently being considered in U.S. Congress that will not only help bail out the ailing newspaper industry, but everyone else who values local journalism.
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act allows individual and business taxpayers certain tax credits for supporting local newspapers like the Steele County Times and other media. Specifically, individual taxpayers would be able to claim an income tax credit up to $250 for a local newspaper subscription.
The bill would also allow local newspaper employers a payroll tax credit for wages paid to an employee for service as a journalist and certain small businesses a tax credit for local newspaper advertising expenses.
Luckily, the importance of newspapers is being recognized in Washington. The proposed legislation will help protect newspapers from the business tactics of Big Tech companies that often use newspapers’ content without compensation.
During my long career, I have never seen major legislation like this help out the newspaper industry.
This effort also comes on the heels of our country trying to pull itself out of the worst economic crisis in recent memory caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Newspapers were not immune to the long list of small businesses that suffered during the crisis. Advertising revenue dropped sharply during this period.
What has complicated the battle for newspapers is that revenue was in decline even without a pandemic. Facebook and social media have drastically cut into newspaper revenue for years.
Despite the uphill battle facing newspapers, I am proud to say we have persevered through it all. I am cautiously hopeful that we may come out of it stronger in the end, largely in part to our great readers and advertisers who recognize the need for a strong, local news source.
The Times has strived to provide a critical link for people to important information throughout the coronavirus. For more than a year, our newspaper has provided vital information to protect the health and safety of readers.
Perhaps in a strange way, I think the pandemic has helped people understand more than ever that newspapers contribute to building community identity and the success of local businesses. Newspapers are committed to the critical role of protecting democracy and civil life.
It’s often said that people need to shop local and eat local. I’d like to add another layer to that: Read local and subscribe to your local newspaper. Supporting the local newspaper is one of the best things you can do to strengthening the community.
As our slogan suggests, we are always local, all the time. I hope readers realize that our philosophy is to be hyper-local. A great example of this happens to be this week’s edition. I lost count on the number of local events our newspaper covered throughout the past week. I challenge anyone to show me where news coverage any of these events showed up on Facebook or any other social media. If something is going on locally, you can expect to see it in our newspaper.
The Journalism Act is a major indication that local journalism is important. I hope you agree and go in hot pursuit of getting your friends, neighbors and relatives to subscribe to their local newspaper, wherever that may be.