In May, two months into this Covid crisis, I wrote to you explaining why Chalkbeat asked Congress for half a billion dollars. Since then, the importance of the local news we were advocating for has only increased, while the economic future of newsrooms like Chalkbeat remains in question. And so, along with a coalition of news leaders and community activists, we have continued to advocate that taxpayer dollars must support the work of informing and engaging citizens.
Last week, our coalition celebrated a breakthrough. Reps. Anne Kirkpatrick (D) of Arizona and Dan Newhouse (R) of Washington co-sponsored the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. The bill is designed to financially support local news organizations in three ways: (1) a $250 tax credit for news consumers to spend on a subscription or membership to a local news publication or outlet of their choice; (2) a payroll tax credit for news organizations to help cover reporters’ salaries; and (3) a tax credit for small- to medium-sized businesses to advertise in local news organizations, whether print, digital, or broadcast.
Here’s our ask of you, our readers: If you believe in reporting that works for communities, like the work we do at Chalkbeat, we ask that you reach out to your representative and senators to advocate for stimulus support for local news. Specifically, we want members of the House to support the Kirkpatrick-Newhouse bill, and we need senators to step up and sponsor a Senate version as part of a broader stimulus package. Go to the Rebuild Local News site for information on how to call, write, or tweet your members of Congress.
As education journalists, we will never make recommendations about how to shape education policy or funding. But in the area of local news, we have a duty to call for what is needed. We would not be asking you to take action if we didn’t believe it was important — for our work, for our communities, and for democracy itself.