Members of Congress on opposite sides of the aisle are leading a bipartisan effort to push for a bill that would support local news organizations through tax credits.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would offer tax credits to support subscribers, advertisers and journalists, and rise up out of the fragile situation the industry has been in, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are introducing this bill because we feel passionately about keeping our local journalists and community news outlets sustainable during these challenging times,” U.S. Rep Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) said. “The big national papers are great, but it’s right here, with our local journalists, that I learn more and know how to advocate better for our home.”

Kirkpatrick is co-sponsor of the bill with U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington.

The tax breaks would last five years and would give newspapers a chance to get back on their feet, said Francis Wick, president and CEO of Wick Communications.

“Local journalism is on the verge of extinction if something doesn’t change,” he said, adding that the pandemic has hurt efforts to fund journalism over a long period without having a stable, newer business model to work from.

Wick Communications owns news organizations in 11 states, including the Quincy Valley Post-Register.

The proposed bill is supported by the National Newspaper Association, News Media Alliance and several state news organizations.

The draft bill would use tax credits to help increase newspaper subscriptions, compensate journalists and make it more attractive for local advertisers to invest in hometown media organizations.

There are three main segments to the Sustainability Act:

● Credit for local newspaper subscriptions

● Payroll credit for compensation of journalists

● Credit for advertising in local newspapers and local media.

Wick said he’s aware that people will balk at the idea of government assistance for journalism, “but the alternative is far more jeopardizing in terms of qualifying information and keeping citizens properly informed.”

“Every part of this act sunsets, and in no way do I believe journalism should be funded by the government over an extended period of time,” he said. “We must maintain an objective third party position, asking appropriate questions and ensuring everyone has a voice along the way.”

The bill is the latest effort in Congress and individual states to shore up the hard-hit media industry through various means.

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