Earlier this morning the U.S. House passed the “Build Back Better” reconciliation plan, which included the key provision we’ve supported in the Local Journalism Sustainability Act: saving local news journalists.
I want to thank House leadership and the 14 Republican co-sponsors of the legislation. This measure is truly bipartisan even though the House passed BBB with only Democratic votes.
It has a neutral tax credit that would be available for any legit employer of local journalists. It’ll be one of the largest public investments in journalism in U.S. history.
This legislation would not be possible without our support. We got the AFL-CIO to support it and helped tighten the definition of journalists to make sure we were targeting legitimate news organizations and full-time employed local journalists. We moved the needle so that it would support more journalists, by raising the cap to 1,500 credits per company each year.
And we joined and supported the Rebuild Local News Coalition, which has both companies, nonprofits and labor at the table.
Steve Waldman, chair of the coalition, said, “The payroll tax credit approved today by the House of Representatives is a simple, content-neutral, nonpartisan, First-Amendment-friendly way to save local news and make sure communities get covered.”
I couldn’t agree more. Almost every local community has been struggling with the loss of local reporting. In the past decade the U.S. has lost about half of all local newspaper journalists.
This legislation will support local news journalists pure and simple. Not only will it help support the journalists currently employed, but I expect it to boost hiring across the country. In the first year, local news organizations will get a $25,000 tax credit for every full-time local journalist employed. It’ll continue at $15,000 a year in years 2-5.
Journalists are the unblinking eye safeguarding democracy and holding power to account. We are the light in the dark and we give a voice to the voiceless.
The legislation now heads to the Senate, with action expected before the end of the year. Everyone across the Guild knows this is an essential moment to safeguard our democracy. Record numbers of journalists have unionized and joined our ranks. We’ve been building a movement to save local journalists and save local news.