Elected officials, local newspapers from across New York rally to save local news

Empire State Local News Coalition calls on lawmakers to pass Local Journalism Sustainability Act in FY’25 budget


The Empire State Local News Coalition, a statewide advocacy group of more than 150 local news outlets, and elected officials rallied March 20 at the State Capitol in support of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. The industry-saving bill, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Carrie Woerner, provides tax credits to local news outlets for the employment of local news journalists. Elected officials in attendance included Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Senator Monica Martinez, Assemblymember Michaelle Solages and Assemblymember David Weprin. Last week, the NYS Senate included the bill in its One House budget resolution, a major sign of the bill’s growing support in the legislature. 

Lawmakers have less than two weeks until the April 1st deadline to enact the FY’25 state budget. Today’s rally signals growing pressure on lawmakers to offer a lifeline to the local news industry, which has experienced a significant downturn over the past two decades. New York State has experienced a 50% decrease in the number of newspapers since 2004, resulting in thousands of lost jobs and stories. There is a growing number of communities with little to no access to local newspaper coverage: 13 New York counties are down to just one newspaper and Orleans County is the first with no local newspaper at all. 

Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, “It’s been said that democracy dies in darkness. A thriving local news industry is vital to the health of our democracy, so I’m proud that our Local Journalism Sustainability Act (S.625C) is in the Senate’s one house budget and I’m hopeful that through it we can establish a payroll tax credit to help keep our community news outlets afloat.”

Capped at $20 million statewide, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act is a bipartisan bill that provides payroll tax credits for the employment of local news journalists. News organizations would receive a 50% refundable tax credit against the first $50,000 of each newsroom employee's salary, up to $200,000 per outlet. This benefit would be limited to print and online newspapers and broadcasters with 100 employees or less and that cover local community news ensuring that truly local news outlets will receive this assistance. This bill will be crucial for incentivizing job creation, returning reporters to many of the state's newsrooms that are becoming increasingly desolate.

“The fight to save local news is a fight to save our democracy,” said Zachary Richner, founder of the Empire State Local News Coalition. “Hometown papers deliver the hyperlocal updates and investigations necessary to sustain a community’s civic and financial well-being. As local news declines, critical stories are lost and communities become more polarized. We’re proud to have the Senate’s support and we call on Governor Hochul and the Assembly to support this industry-saving bill and protect critical newsroom jobs.” 

"This proposal, if approved, could be a game changer for small and medium size news organizations, many of which are struggling to pay bills, keep valued employees and grow. We're not asking for a bail out, just meaningful tax relief," said Terry Tuthill, president at New York Press Association.

“Community journalism plays an important role in telling the story from a hyper local perspective. It is essential to secure the future of this key aspect of sharing information so that its readers stay informed of events and topics critical to their individual communities,” said Laura Guerriero, publisher at Bronx Times Reporter/Schneps Media.

“Across the state, local media is at risk — community pillars for generations worth saving. One of my publications dates back to 1815 and this bill will go a long way towards doing that ensuring it continues to run,” said Mark P. Vinciguerra, publisher and president at Capital Region Independent Media.

“Supporting the Local Journalism Sustainability Act is not just about saving a vital American industry; it's about preserving the heartbeat of democracy at the community level. By incentivizing the employment of local journalists, this bill empowers communities to stay informed, engaged and united, countering the detrimental effects of news deserts, polarization, misinformation, disinformation and polarized, partisan national information silos. As a local news publisher, I fully endorse this bill as a vital lifeline for our commitment to holding government accountable and forging community," said Adam Stone, publisher at The Examiner News.

“Like so many communities across the state, the areas we serve and many of our readers have been set off track by divisive, opinion-based national news outlets and misinformation spreading online,” said Gavin Menu, publisher of The Express News Group. “We are the community watchdogs, voicing outrage and calling attention to important issues when necessary. Doing this work requires a lot of resources and, as we look to reinvent ourselves for the future, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act will give us the breathing room to do just that."

“The Local Journalism Sustainability Act recognizes that news journalists are essential in the many New York State communities where residents are faced with decisions at the grassroots level every day,” said Grant Hamilton, publisher at Neighbor-to-Neighbor News. “New York has a long history of quality journalism programs at public and private institutions. However potential students need to see that jobs will exist for them upon graduation for these programs to succeed. This bill helps sustain existing journalism jobs and create new ones.”

“The Local Journalism Sustainability Act will help ensure citizens continue to have access to important news about what their local government is doing. Democracy places a responsibility on citizens to be informed so they can engage in the electoral process and participate in local government. Without this bill, even more local news organizations will not have the financial resources to provide the essential service of reporting on local government,” said Bill Shumway, editor and publisher at North Country This Week/NorthCountryNow.com.

“Healthy local news outlets are essential as our communities navigate uncertain political and economic times. We cannot have New Yorkers in small towns across the state left in the dark about what is happening in their local governments, schools and among their neighbors,” said Cameron Nutting Williams, chief revenue officer at The Ogden Newspapers Inc. “Real information, gathered and synthesized by local reporters, is the best antidote to the swirl of misinformation and partisan backbiting that dominates online discourse.”

“The Local Journalism Sustainability Act is crucial to the strength of our reporting efforts in our communities. It is vital as we press on in reporting local news and events for our readers. As the only local and reliable source of news, residents rely on our coverage to stay informed as to the happenings in their own community. This act will give us the ability to gather more information and more in-depth coverage to present to our local people as we have been doing for almost 200 years,” said Michael Bird, publisher at The Post-Journal.

“This bill would be a significant game-changer. While we are proud that we haven’t missed an issue since COVID, we all know that local newspaper subscriptions were already dwindling. Having less local reporters hasn’t inspired new subscribers but we pivot and continue to strive to serve our communities. Having a resource like this would put feet on the street to engage with our communities, to deliver our people the news they deserve and to give them a voice,” said Julie Fedler, ad director at Capital Region Independent Media.

About the Empire State Local News Coalition:

Comprising over 150 print and digital newspapers, the Empire State Local News Coalition launched in 2024 to advocate for sound public policy that ensures the important work of local news organizations can continue across New York state. Through our independent journalism, we aim to serve, inform, uplift and protect New Yorkers. We care deeply about our local communities as well as the future of New York's free press. For more information, visit SaveNYLocalNews.com.