No industry has been left untouched by the novel coronavirus.
Medical personnel have been affected the worst. They’ve been overwhelmed and understaffed. They often lack the basis resources necessary to care for people who have become seriously ill with COVID-19.
Other professions have been hurt as well. People have had to adapt to mandated safety protocols designed to keep them healthy.
If Americans have discovered anything during this crisis it’s that reliable sources of information are essential to keeping up with the latest updates. There is much we don’t yet understand about the coronavirus, so following new guidelines from public health authorities makes sense.
There is no getting around the fact that having access to ongoing reports about the coronavirus could mean the difference between life and death. People need to know that the stories they hear and read about are trustworthy, and so members of the news media definitely have a job to perform.
Journalists aren’t merely vital to understanding the evolving nature of this public health crisis. People rely upon us to keep them informed about what their municipal, state and federal governments are doing. The actions of lawmakers at all levels have profound consequences for Americans, and sometimes we’re the only ones reviewing what’s going on.
Citizens must be well informed to make wise decisions about their elected representatives and policies enacted in their name. The system goes off the rails when people don’t grasp how their government is doing.
But just like everyone else, those of us in this industry have been hit by the devastating financial effects of the pandemic. It’s difficult to collect and report the news when the operating revenue dwindles.
When the economy turns sour, people have less money to support the news organizations they use every day. And maintaining this flow of information is impossible without a sufficient flow of cash.
Federal lawmakers are considering legislation that would benefit news organizations, our customers and our advertisers. Passing this bill and enacting it into law would offer the needed boost for these companies to keep going through the pandemic and beyond.
The bill is called the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. It would offer three tax credits that would ensure a good source of revenue to continue operating.
Readers would receive a tax credit for subscribing to their local newspaper. In addition, newspapers could take advantage of a five-year refundable credit to employ and adequately compensate journalists. The final part of the act would provide a five-year non-refundable tax credit to small- and medium-sized business to advertise with newspapers as well as radio and TV stations.
“Now more than ever, we are witnessing disparities of all kinds across the United States, and the ability of local journalism to withstand current economic conditions is one of them,” said U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., a co-sponsor of the bill. “Big cities may have strong papers, whereas smaller, perhaps more rural towns’ papers might be struggling with journalistic output. We need to support local journalism and provide papers with options — after all, they are fundamental to American daily life and deserve to be treated as such.”
We urge U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R- Schuylerville, to co-sponsor this legislation and support it when it comes up for a vote. U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., should co-sponsor it in the Senate and guide it through the process for passage. This is a vital time for all of us to have access to reliable information, and the Local Journalism Sustainability Act will help us provide what Americans need.