In June of, 2021, U.S. Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona, and Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, introduced H.R. 3940, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA), a bipartisan bill designed to help local newspapers sustain financial viability through a series of tax credits.
The LJSA was originally the brainchild of Arizona-based Francis Wick, CEO of Wick Communications and fellow news publisher Alan Fisco, President of the Seattle Times, who each, along with support from America’s Newspapers, lobbied their local congress members, to introduce the bill that was hoped to provide some needed financial assistance to help abate the widespread proliferation of newspaper shutdowns nationwide.
For months the LJSA was debated and modified with hopes that its passage would become a reality. Its closest chance came in November of 2021, with the modified, stripped-down version that only offered tax credits for hiring and retaining journalists. H.R. 390 was then included in the draft text of the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better reconciliation package. But the LJSA was not to be; last-minute lobbying by Big Tech and others squashed the bill, “pushing it to the curb” for possible resurrection in the next Congress.
Now, a new piece of legislation, which offers tax incentives to both local news media that employ journalists and the local businesses that help support the media outlet through their advertising dollars, has surfaced as the Community News and Small Business Support Act (H.R.4756). The new bill was introduced on Thursday, July 20, 2023, by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA). At its core, H.R. 4756 lays out a five-year plan to provide payroll tax credits to local/community news outlets expressly to hire and retain local news reporters across the country. Small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees) that advertise in local newspapers, digital news sites, on local radio or with local T.V. stations are also eligible for tax credits.
In this episode of E&P Reports, we go one-on-one with one of the key players in helping champion tax incentive-based legislation through the U.S. Congress, Dean Ridings, CEO of America’s Newspapers, one of North America’s largest news media trade organizations. Ridings offers a quick history of the new Community News and Small Business Support Act (H.R.4756), a bill designed to help sustain local journalism through tax breaks for those who pay newsroom salaries and small businesses who support local journalism through their advertising dollars. Ridings also speaks frankly about the chances of eventual passage of the bill and what each local news publisher can do to help make it happen.