Legislation to support local journalism introduced in Albany
Nick Reisman is reporting for State of Politics under legislation put forward by two state lawmakers on November 24, local news organizations would be eligible for business tax credits to hire journalists, and subscribers would be eligible for a personal income tax credit. The tax credits are being proposed as local newspapers have come under economic strain and are increasingly under the control of hedge funds. For example, the hedge fund Alden Capital has reportedly sought the purchase of Lee Enterprises, a chain that publishes papers in Buffalo, Glens Falls and St. Louis. Alden has come under fire for purchasing newspapers only to reduce staff and liquidate real estate. “Community news is the bedrock of our local democracy. But since 2004, more than 20 percent of American newspapers have gone out of business, including 40 percent of weekly papers in New York," said state Sen. Brad Hoylman. He said the Local Journalism Sustainability Act provides a way to help local news outlets survive and continue to inform the public in the current media landscape. The tax credits would apply to local newspapers and digital publications as a way to support subscriptions and hiring. Under the measure, subscribers to local publications would receive an annual tax credit for 80 percent of the subscription cost in the first year, and 50 percent in subsequent years, up to $250 a year. Local news organizations that employ local journalists full time would be eligible for a quarterly tax credit of up to 50 percent of their salary for the first year and 30 percent in subsequent years for up to five years total. Read more at nystateofpolitics [dot] com.