Local media could receive $ 1.7 billion from Build Back Better Act


  • Local media could receive $ 1.7 billion under the Build Back Better Act.
  • The provision would provide a payroll tax credit to local newspapers, websites and radio stations.
  • Supporters of the proposal have pointed out the disproportionate role local reporting plays in covering the workings of government.

A payroll tax credit for local news outlets could become law in the coming weeks as part of the nearly $ 2 trillion Build Back Better law championed by President Joe Biden and Democrats in the United States. Congress, according to the New York Times.

This provision was part of the bill passed by the House earlier this month.

With a decline in print advertising revenue leading to tremors within the journalism industry – coinciding with the decline of small, family-owned outlets – funding could prove critical for many publications.

The Storm Lake Times – a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in northwest Iowa – could potentially receive $ 200,000 in federal grants and nearly $ 500,000 over the course of four more years, according to the Times.

Gannett – a publishing giant that has media across the United States – could potentially make $ 37.5 million in the first year and millions of dollars in subsequent years.

Penelope Muse Abernathy, visiting professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, told The Times the funding would serve an important purpose for individual communities.

“He recognizes that democracy begins at home,” she said.

To unlock the funding, the Senate must approve the ambitious Democrat-led social spending plan that includes funding for universal kindergarten for six years, child care grants and an extension of Medicare to cover hearing aids. , among others.

The bill would allocate $ 1.67 billion over five years to newspapers, online news sites, radio and television stations and other organizations focused on local news.

If outlets are eligible, they could receive $ 25,000 for each hyperlocal reporter hired in the first year, with $ 15,000 set aside for the remaining four years.

Any media funded by a political action committee, or PAC, would not be able to take advantage of this benefit, according to the Times.

In addition, publishers who have more than 1,500 employees at a given location would not be eligible for the tax credit.

However, large companies that focus on local news – like Gannett – would be included.

Researchers at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina have found that there are 200 counties in the United States that do not have a local newspaper. And according to the Pew Research Center, journalism jobs in newspapers have fallen from 71,000 in 2008 to 31,000 in 2020, a drop of 57%.

Supporters of the proposal stressed the vital role local reporting plays in covering the workings of government and the wider community fabric.

But the Conservatives jumped at the news of the tax credit, with Louisiana House Minority Whip Steve Scalise calling it a partisan proposal.

“It’s Biden and Dems in Congress helping pay the salaries of the journalists who cover them,” he said on Twitter earlier this month.

Local outlets – far from the Washington, DC limits – would likely be receptive to help.

Art Cullen, editor and co-owner of the Storm Lake Times, expressed such sentiment to The Times.

“I have been skeptical of things like local taxes or direct federal grants,” he told the newspaper. “But on the other hand, we need help and are taking it wherever I can get it.”


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