Many readers may not have heard about an act in the current Budget Reconciliation bill even though it has been endorsed by Bedford’s Congressman Seth Moulton and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. It could potentially aid small and mid-sized news outlets such as The Bedford Citizen, the New Bedford Light, the Carlisle Mosquito, and potentially the Lowell Sun. It is the ”Local Journalism Sustainability Act” which would allow tax deductions that encourage subscriptions to local news.
While studies show that local journalism is more trusted than national sources, the erosion of revenue from advertising such as “Help Wanted” and “House for Sale” has now largely left the print world and moved to the Internet. That change has reduced revenue and crippled many newspapers. Large numbers have had to sharply reduce staff or close entirely.
Still, news must be collected, vetted, written, edited, and published. Each step requires skill and commitment to producing a quality reliable product for readers. The nation’s founders understood the importance of the press and provided for its protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
“Magazines, as well as common Gazettes, might spread through every city, town and village in America,” George Washington wrote in 1788. “I consider such easy vehicles of knowledge, more happily calculated than any other, to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry and meliorate the morals of an enlightened and free People.”
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act is intended to encourage subscribers and advertisers to support local news. It would allow subscribers to deduct from their federal taxes up to $250 for subscriptions to local news outlets. Businesses that advertise in local news outlets could deduct up to $5,000. Finally, the news source could claim up to $25,000 in payroll tax credit for each employee.
News is broadly defined, can be in print or digital format, and is limited to organizations with fewer than 50 employees. No specific frequency of publication is required. The law would sunset in five years.
According to Editor and Publisher Newsletter [https://www.editorandpublisher.com/stories/bill-to-help-save-local-journalism-advancing,202598] the act is still in the Reconciliation Bill, but much is unsettled. Stay tuned.