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Why and how we should save local journalism

HarshawnRatanpal · business · opinion · 10/10/2020 · edited

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Disclaimer: the author of this post was formally employed at the San Diego Union-Tribune 

I was recently inspired by an article on inewsource1, and I’d like to weigh in. 
	
Journalism is dying. Both in quality and quantity. Trust in mass media is at 41%2, and it seems to grow less objective and fair every day. In contrast, local newspapers and channels often stick balanced facts and stories about their communities, and that’s reflected in their over 70% approval rating3.
	
Unfortunately, newspapers have been declining for decades. Since 2000, newspaper employment has fallen by over 60%4. While it may seem like your local “globe”, “tribune”, or “union” is in every grocery store, their newsroom has probably been declining as well. These numbers are plummeting even worse with COVID-19, with the employment of over 36,000 journalists effected5.
	
Local newspapers play an important role in informing communities on news that could affect localities immensely. San Diego Union-Tribune Reporter Morgan Cook’s investigation into Duncan Hunter’s financial misconduct6 led to his indictment. The Boston Globe’s reporting was essential to the Catholic Church being exposed7. Newspapers do important work and we’re letting them die.
	
I understand that paying for news when national sites give it for free seems like a waste of money. But keeping in mind a former article of mind, voting with your wallet is a tangible way to support a business.
	
Still I know it can be tough, which is why I support the passing of a bi-partisan bill sitting in Congress. 
	
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would give individuals and businesses tax credits in order to support local media8.
	
Introduced in July and sponsored by a members of both sides, the act would provide individuals a tax credit for subscribing to local media for up to $250, a tax credit for small businesses advertising with local media up to $5000, and a payroll tax credit to incentivize local media to retain employees, which is based on size9.

This bill would allow for the support of local papers by just taxing people and businesses less while not  actually spending any more taxpayer money. The only concern I would have is the potential bias in what gets labeled as a legitimate news source, but as long as it were applied liberally, I think it’d be fine.
	
Like I said, journalism is dying. But if we support local, good journalism on an individual and systemic level, we can keep it, and the work they do, alive.

Sources

1) https://inewsource.org/2020/07/29/saving-local-news-sustainability-act-congress/

2)https://news.gallup.com/poll/267047/americans-trust-mass-media-edges-down.aspx

3)https://www.poynter.org/ethics-trust/2018/finally-some-good-news-trust-in-news-is-up-especially-for-local-media/

4)https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2018/07/03/even-fishermen-and-coal-miners-are-faring-better-than-newspaper-employees/snK5o6ritw8UxvD51O336L/story.html

5) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/business/media/news-media-coronavirus-jobs.html

6) https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/watchdog/sdut-hunter-video-games-2016apr05-htmlstory.html

7) https://www3.bostonglobe.com/arts/movies/spotlight-movie/?arc404=true

8)https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7640?r=1&s=1

9)https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7640/text?r=1&s=1

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