Where are we with the Local Journalism Sustainability Act?

Apr 1, 2023

Adding refundable tax credits to the U.S. Code to help local newspapers became part of the federal legislative dialogue in the 117th Congress. No definitive action was taken on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. But state legislatures were paying attention. Active proposals are now pending in several states, including New York, Maryland, Wisconsin and Connecticut, to mirror ideas from LJSA. Among them are to provide tax credits to help local businesses to advertise in local media and to support newsroom payrolls with credits against state taxes.

NNA Chair John Galer, publisher of The Journal–News in Hillsboro, Illinois, said NNA’s public policy team has helped several state associations to build support for quick action in 2023.

“State legislatures move much more quickly than Congress,” Galer said. “Although NNA does not usually take an active role in state legislation, these provisions are a part of our federal strategy. More states and more conversation on the importance of help for local newspapers builds momentum on Capitol Hill. While we await reintroduction of some form of LJSA in the 118th Congress, NNA is helping our members to promote these state actions.”

Steve Waldman, whose Rebuild the News Coalition organized multimedia efforts on LJSA in 2022, agreed that the state actions are important. He said:

“After the Local Journalism Sustainability Act stalled in Congress, we saw a sudden burst of activity in the states. Lawmakers from all over the country — in red and blue legislatures — took pieces of the LJSA and introduced them as bills. There's a growing understanding of the severity of the crisis for community news and the need for the government to take some First-Amendment-friendly steps. The public understanding of how important community newspapers are is a big part of why policymakers are becoming so interested.”