State Budget Has Money for Hiring Local Journalists

New York backers call measure the 'George Santos Prevention Act'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2024 5:15 PM CDT
State Budget Has Money for Hiring Local Journalists
News Editor Chris Sciria puts the newspaper to bed for the last time from an empty newsroom at the Citizen's 25 Dill St. location in Auburn, NY, in October 2021. After 51 years on Dill Street, the newspaper moved its operation to a smaller office space.   (Kevin Rivoli/The Citizen via AP, File)

New York state is offering up to $90 million in tax credits for news outlets to hire and retain journalists in an effort to help keep the shrinking local news industry afloat. The US newspaper industry has been in a long decline, driven by factors including a loss in advertising revenue, as outlets have moved from primarily print to mostly digital. That prompted New York lawmakers to help in a measure passed in the state budget. The three-year program allows some news organizations to tap into refundable tax credits each year, with a single outlet able to receive tax credits of up to $320,000 annually, the AP reports.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, said preserving journalism jobs is vital for the health of democracy. As evidence, he cited the weakened New York news media's failure to research the background of George Santos, a Republican who fabricated many details of his life story, until after he had been elected to Congress. "Some of my colleagues have dubbed this credit the 'George Santos Prevention Act' because many believe it was the lack of local press coverage that enabled Santos to spin his web of lies undetected," Hoylman-Sigal said.

While it is intended to help small, community news sites, larger media organizations could potentially benefit, per the AP. The tax credits would mostly only be available to news outlets that are not publicly traded, though there would be an exception for certain media businesses that can show a reduction in circulation. Hoylman-Sigal said he is open to expanding the legislation to include nonprofit news organizations and digital-only media outlets, which are currently left out of the program. "This is the first time in American history that we have created a tax credit structure to support journalism jobs," said Jon Schleuss, president of the NewsGuild-CWA, a labor union for journalists.

(More local news stories.)

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