The Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which would help community newspapers that are flying against stiff financial headwinds, recently passed two significant milestones toward becoming law.
The bill, which earlier this month was introduced in the U.S. House, has now been introduced in the Senate. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, who represents Galveston County, has indicated he would co-sponsor the House version of the bill. Weber was among five members of the Texas delegation, four Republicans and one Democrat, who co-sponsored a version of the bill filed last year.
Unlike many issues in Washington, this legislation has bipartisan support and is focused on delivering benefits to local communities across the United States by sustaining local news organizations, including this newspaper.
Newspapers are facing significant fiscal challenges because of technological disruption, including Google and Facebook’s use of newspaper content without compensation. This legislation provides an important but temporary means of support to help newspapers in transition to sustainable business models, and it deserves the support of Congressional representatives across the country.
Please join The Daily News in calling on members of Congress to support this legislation.
The act would provide a much-needed boost to newspapers, but it’s not a permanent handout for local newspapers.
Instead, it’s a well-thought-out approach to help sustain local news-gathering efforts through a series of tax credits that expire in five years.
And it not only will provide aid to newspapers but also to subscribers and local small businesses through tax credits that will benefit them directly.
Newspaper subscribers already understand the importance of their local newspapers and that their continued support is critical.
Through this legislation, subscribers will receive a tax credit of up to $250 a year.
It’s a win-win for subscribers because this tax credit will cover a significant part of their annual newspaper subscription, no matter whether it’s print or digital.
The act also offers small businesses, those with fewer than 1,000 employees, a tax credit to cover up to $5,000 of advertising costs in the first year and $2,500 in each of the following four years. This will allow small businesses to drive customers while investing in quality local journalism.
Not only will this credit offset some of their advertising investment, it also will help them improve their business by reaching more customers and generating more sales. It keeps money invested locally and helps maintain jobs and support other local initiatives.
The act also would offer news organizations a payroll credit of up to $25,000 the first year and $2,500 in each of the subsequent years to employ and adequately compensate local journalists.
All elements of the act sunset after five years.
Local journalism is an important element of U.S. society — and one we feel contributes to a better nation through the sharing of opinions, facts and the invitation for civil conversations.
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act will help local small businesses, consumers of news and smaller local community newspapers like the one you’re reading today.
The Daily News is the oldest newspaper in Texas — around longer than statehood itself. We’ve always worked to provide our community a high-quality newspaper readers could proudly call their own. This is our time-honored call and mission.
We ask our readers to contact members of the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate and urge them to support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.
• Leonard Woolsey