Press Release

Public Knowledge Applauds Senate for Moving to Support Local Journalism

July 23, 2021 , , , , ,
newspaper

Yesterday, Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the “Local Journalism Sustainability Act” to create tax credits designed to encourage citizens, small businesses, and newsrooms to sustain and support local news.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which was recently reintroduced in the House on a bipartisan basis by sponsors Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), would encourage consumers to buy local news subscriptions or donate to nonprofit news organizations, help newsrooms retain journalists, and motivate small businesses to buy advertising in local media. According to a report issued earlier this month, newsroom employment in the United States has dropped by 26% since 2008, despite gains in the promising digital publishing sector. Newspaper newsroom employment fell 57% over this time period, leaving more than three million Americans without access to a local paper.  Public Knowledge has consistently advocated for policies to sustainably fund newsgathering, mitigate the impact of disinformation on digital platforms, and protect the democratic benefit of a thriving free press — a key pillar of our democracy.

The following can be attributed to Lisa Macpherson, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:

“Whether it’s mitigating misinformation on digital platforms, building community and political  engagement, ensuring return on investments in civic projects, or supporting our democracy, local news is essential. And it’s endangered: the numbers that refer to news deserts and laid-off reporters prove it. Public Knowledge supports the Local News Sustainability Act because its tiered system of tax credits encourages citizens and small businesses to invest in local news and encourages news organizations to actually retain or hire those who report and produce the news. We applaud Senator Cantwell, who has a long history of supporting local news, Senator Kelly, and Senator Wyden for picking up the cause in the Senate.

We appreciate that lawmakers have taken the requisite care in drafting legislation that addresses the role of government in news: the Local Journalism Sustainability Act preserves editorial independence, avoids government intervention in content, and empowers citizens and small businesses.

It’s been difficult for lawmakers on the Right and Left to agree on policy solutions to support news organizations, but this bill deserves bipartisan support in the Senate. We urge other members of Congress to move this bill forward by centering on the foundational public service mission of journalism as an essential pillar of democratic and human infrastructure.”