Community News & Small Business Support Act
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Trusted and reliable, local newspapers matter to their communities

October 27, 2023 - A recent Gallup study showed that America’s confidence in the national mass media has reached a near record low. While that’s disturbing, it’s not unexpected.  The digital age has brought a barrage of national news sources that are focused on sound bites, opinions, partisan views and a race to push out breaking news, even if it hasn’t been properly fact-checked or vetted. The problem has been exacerbated by social media channels that allow disinformation to be distributed virtually unchecked.

However, Americans feel differently when it comes to their local newspaper. According to a 2023 national survey of 5,000 adults, local newspapers are the most relied on and trusted media source of original reporting: more than television and radio, and significantly more than social media. Trust in local newspapers extends across age groups and demographics, as adults of all segments recognize the value of reliable local reporting that newspapers deliver. 


Despite Congress’ dysfunction, support grows for local news bills

Temporary House leader Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., presides as Republicans try to elect Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to be the new House speaker, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (Alex Brandon / AP)
Brier Dudley | Seattle Times Free Press editor

Leadership turmoil in Congress could potentially help the local news industry in its quest for federal support, according to an update provided to publishers gathered in Chicago last week.

That’s in part because there’s growing appreciation of the industry’s dire situation and bipartisan support for federal intervention, such as tax credits to help save newsroom jobs.

Brier Dudley's SAVE THE FREE PRESS columns are made available for free to the public and to other newspapers for their use — to build awareness of the local journalism crisis and potential solutions. The entire body of work is viewable here:

“I think the reality is, unfortunately, many legislators have seen newspapers close in their districts, their districts are worse,” Dean Ridings, CEO of America’s Newspapers, said during the trade group’s Senior Leadership Conference. “The towns that have lost their newspapers are not better off and they know that.”

Ridings and dozens of publishers lobbied for support in a Washington, D.C., “fly in” last month.

“Everyone I met with on both sides of the aisle were receptive,” he said.

Most publishers desperately need support as their businesses are disrupted by technological and consumer changes.

While the industry is evolving and finding new business models, that’s impeded by the unfair business practices of tech giants that were documented by Congress and federal and state regulators and are slowly being addressed in court.

Meanwhile two newspapers a week are closing, on average. Newspaper employment fell 70% since 2005, according to research by Northwestern University’s Medill School.

The key proposals are temporary payroll tax credits to preserve newsroom jobs and a bill that would enable newspapers to collectively negotiate agreements with tech platforms, where their stories are increasingly read.

“Newspapers will close if we don’t do something about this problem,” said Cameron Nutting Williams, chief revenue officer at Ogden Newspapers, a family-owned newspaper chain based in West Virginia.

Then there’s the imminent threat of generative artificial intelligence scraping, blending and repackaging online newspaper stories, potentially driving a final nail in the industry’s coffin.

The News/Media Alliance, another trade group, is drafting a legislative proposal to address what some publications are calling an “existential threat” from AI, according to its CEO, Danielle Coffey.

“There is no business model for our industry with some versions of AI,” she told the conference.

Informal polling found most publishers and news executives in attendance saw little to no profit in 2022. Some 39% expect to have fewer employees in 2025 and 31% expect to have more, according to a “show of hands” via electronic devices in the room.

Nutting Williams said many people don’t realize the severity of the situation and what happens when papers close.

“There’s a myth that if a newspaper closes something else will just come up behind it, something digital only, a nonprofit or something will come in behind it,” she said. “That has definitely happened in some cases but we also know that in a lot of smaller and rural communities that’s not going to happen or it doesn’t happen.”

Tax credits to sustain newsrooms while the industry retools for digital competition were first proposed in 2020 as the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. It also included a household credit for news subscriptions and credits for small businesses advertising locally. The newsroom credits came close to passing in 2021 as part of a pandemic relief spending package.

A scaled-down version, without the subscription credit, was introduced in July as the Community News and Small Business Support Act. U.S. Reps. Claudia Tenney, an upstate New York Republican, and Suzan DelBene, a Medina Democrat, are co-sponsors.

The bill, H.R. 4756, now has 13 Republican and 14 Democratic sponsors. Other Washington co-sponsors so far are U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Derek Kilmer.

America’s Newspapers has more details at

Coffey’s group is leading the push for the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, a temporary antitrust exemption that would allow news organizations to collectively bargain compensation agreements with Google and Facebook.

The dysfunction of Congress is an impediment, however. Coffey told the group that the JCPA has momentum in the Senate but the House situation is more than complicated.

JCPA is held up in part by the opposition of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee. Coffey told the group that if Jordan did become House speaker “he’ll have bigger fish to fry” and the bill could potentially progress.

The bill is also furiously opposed by the tech giants, even though they’ve voluntarily made digital-content deals with a few of the largest publishers in the U.S. Left out are the 6,000 or so local newspapers providing most of America’s essential civic journalism, and needing fairer compensation online to survive in their more digital future.

The dominant platforms are also paying publishers through content deals in Australia and Europe, and they’re negotiating with Canada’s government to implement a similar law it passed this year.

“We believe the momentum and the wave of compensation to newspapers for their fair market value is inevitable,” Coffey said. “And we’ll keep fighting for the value that we produce and that we provide to audiences across the country and around the world.”

Brier Dudley on Twitter: @BrierDudley is editor of The Seattle Times Save the Free Press Initiative. Its weekly newsletter: Reach him at

America’s Newspapers participates in Support Journalism Fly-In

From left – Alan Fisco, The Seattle Times Company; Zachary Richner, Richner Communications; Cameron Nutting Williams, Ogden Newspapers; Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New York); Dean Ridings, America’s Newspapers; and Chris McCannell, Gray-Robinson, meet to discuss the Community News and Small Business Support Act.
Dean Ridings | America's Newspapers
Dean Ridings, CEO, America's Newspapers

October2, 2023 - More than a dozen members of America’s Newspapers participated in a Support Journalism Fly-In in Washington, D.C., last week. In all, more than 80 participants representing news publishers in 25 states attended the event, hosted by the News/Media Alliance. Danielle Coffey, president and CEO of the Alliance, said: “Our members are here in Washington today because they are passionate about quality journalism, and right now its future is at risk.”

Dean Ridings met with Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) to discuss the Community News and Small Business Support Act and the JCPA.

The goal of the fly-in was for news-media representatives to advocate in person with their members of Congress for journalism — and the need for legislative action.

The participants asked their House members to support the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) when it is introduced, and to sign on as co-sponsors of the Community News and Small Business Support Act (H.R. 4756), as well as to provide protection from unlawful scraping of content by artificial intelligence systems. 

Senate members were asked to support the Journalism and Competition Preservation Act (JCPA — S. 1094), and to sign on to the Community News and Small Business Support Act when it is introduced in the Senate. They also were made aware of the need to provide protection from unlawful scraping of content by artificial intelligence systems. 

From left: Conan Gallaty, Tampa Bay Times; Wendy Powell, USA TODAY Network (Florida); Rep. Kathy Castor, (D-Florida); Robert McFarlin, Miami Herald; Dean Ridings, America’s Newspapers; and Capreece Kelsaw, legislative assistant, U.S. House of Representatives

America’s Newspapers has been highly focused on working with Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New York) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Washington) for the introduction of the Community News and Small Business Support Act (H.R. 4756), and now to gain co-sponsors. The bill was introduced in July, and as of Friday, the bill has 21 bipartisan co-sponsors.

Cameron Nutting Williams, CRO of Ogden Newspapers, and president of America’s Newspapers, said: “The fly-in was a unique opportunity to sit face-to-face with lawmakers from across the political spectrum as we laid out the challenges of the local news business. Regardless of party, every lawmaker has felt the impact of their local newspapers and knows that their communities would suffer if they were lost. In an environment where politicians agree on so little, I continue to believe we can rally support behind the immediate, much needed support for local newsrooms and small businesses that H.R. 4756 provides.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with newspaper executives at the Support Journalism Fly-In.

"Meeting with our nation's leaders from both sides of the aisle reinforced that the support for local news is the rare nonpartisan issue," said Zachary Richner, director, Richner Communications, Inc. and nominated as a director  of America’s Newspapers. “The Community News and Small Business Support Act will bring back local jobs to community newsrooms, strengthen Main Street businesses, and increase access to information that reflects hometown values. I am increasingly optimistic that our federal representatives understand the urgency of passing this critical piece of legislation not only for our industry, but also for our communities and for our democracy. It's incredible to see the progress that America's Newspapers has made, under the leadership of Dean Ridings, on pushing forward good public policy on behalf of the local news industry. Thank you to Dean, the America's Newspapers staff — as well as Danielle Coffey at the News/Media Alliance — for their dogged commitment to preserving the Fourth Estate."

The News/Media Alliance recognized Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) for her contributions to preserving quality journalism at a “Support Local Journalism” reception held at The Washington Post‘s headquarters. Pictured are Sen. Klobuchar and Tony Hunter, chairman and CEO of McClatchy, who is chair of the Alliance board of directors.

Alan Fisco, president of The Seattle Times Company and co-chair of America’s Newspapers Legislative Committee, said: “Awesome and worth every penny and my time.  We cannot let up.  There is definitely growing understanding of our industry situation, negative outcomes and support.  I truly believe this is a result of our ongoing efforts, including 'walking the halls'.  Budget for this next year.  It could be the best dollars ever spent!”

Dean Ridings, America’s Newspapers CEO, met with eight House members during the Fly-In. Ridings said: “Everyone I have met with understands the need, and the value, to support local news organizations. I didn’t get a negative reaction or any serious push back from anyone. Plus, I am so encouraged by the strong showing of bipartisan support. Support for local journalism is truly not a partisan issue.”

America’s Newspapers will host a fly-in next Spring and will send out the dates after the 2024 Congressional Calendar is announced.

Learn more about:

Danielle Coffey, president and CEO of the News/Media Alliance, at the Awards Reception at The Washington Post.
Representatives from Invariant and Williams & Jensen, PLLC, brief the attendees at the NMA Journalism Parade Wednesday morning at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill before they went to their meetings with their members of Congress.

This legislation is supported by industry associations across the country

In addition to America's Newspapers, this legislation also is supported by:

News/Media Alliance

International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors

Rebuild Local News

New England Newspaper and Press Association

Alabama Press Association

Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington

Arizona Newspapers Association

Arkansas Press Association

Colorado Press Association

Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association

Florida Press Association

Georgia Press Association

Hoosier State Press Association

Idaho Allied Dailies

Illinois Press Association

Iowa Newspaper Association

Kansas Press Association

Kentucky Press Association

Louisiana Press Association

Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association

Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association

Michigan Press Association

Minnesota Newspaper Association

Mississippi Press Association

Missouri Press Association

Montana Press Association

Nebraska Press Association

Nevada Press Association

New Mexico Press Association

New York Press Association

North Carolina Press Association

Ohio News Media Association

Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association

Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association

Rebuild Local News Coalition

South Carolina Press Association

South Dakota Newspaper Association

Tennessee Press Association

Texas Press Association

Utah Press Association

Vermont Press Association

Washington Newspaper Publishers Association

West Virginia Press Association

Wisconsin Newspapers Association

Wyoming Press Association

And many others ...

Associations wanting to add their names to this list of supporters should email

What we're reading ...
As I boarded an Amtrak train back home from Washington, D.C. last Thursday morning, leaving a city bracing for a potential (ultimately averted) government shutdown amid a debate checkered with misinformation, the capitol’s dysfunction and discord provided an appropriate backdrop to the urgent mission that had brought me there.
"I always say the same thing — the strongest communities have a local newspaper within their borders." — Randy Drilingas, publisher, Webster-Kirkwood Times
In the news
September 19, 2023 - Eight additional legislators — on both sides of the aisle — have signed on as co-sponsors of the Community News & Small Business Support Act (HR 4756).
August 25, 2023 - Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) are the first official co-sponsors of the Community News and Small Business Support Act (HR 4756).
August 10, 2023 - The U.S. Senate’s powerful appropriations chair “strongly” supports a new tax proposal to help save local news outlets. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, who is also Senate president pro tempore, said she’s all for using tax credits to help news outlets retain and add newsroom jobs.
August 1, 2023 - "I do hope the bill passes, and I’ll be making the case for it to our elected representatives. I will also work to build a new business model to sustain this enterprise for the longer haul. I love it, I believe in it, and I feel that we owe it to you — and to the legacy of those who’ve come before — to make it through this difficult moment to the other side." — Ned Seaton, publisher, The Mercury
July 25, 2023 - In this episode of E&P Reports, E&P's Mike Blinder goes one-on-one with one of the key players in helping champion tax incentive-based legislation through the U.S. Congress, Dean Ridings, CEO of America's Newspapers.
July 21, 2023 - Brier Dudley, The Seattle Times' Free Press editor, talks with Rep. Suzan DelBene about the Community News & Small Business Support Act —  H.R. 4756 — which would provide a tax credit to local newspapers of up to $25,000 per journalist in the first year and up to $15,000 per year for the following four years. Also included is a five-year credit for small businesses advertising in local media.
July 21, 2023 - Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) has introduced the Community News and Small Business Support Act alongside Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA). This bill utilizes tax credits to address the decline of local news organizations and support small businesses.
July 21, 2023 - News/Media Alliance President & CEO Danielle Coffey stated, “We applaud Reps. Tenney and DelBene for introducing the Community News and Small Business Support Act and putting the needs of local communities first by supporting local news publishers, who provide critical journalism and information to Americans across the country.”
July 18, 2023 - New legislation to support local newsrooms and local advertisers has been introduced in the 118th Congress. The Community News & Small Business Support Act was introduced by Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-1), both members of the Ways and Means Committee.

Reprint our editorial and editorial cartoon
It’s no secret that recent years have been tough on small businesses and on newspapers. A bipartisan bill, the Community News & Small Business Support Act, that has been introduced in Congress would offer relief to both newspapers and local businesses. For too many newspapers, help can’t come soon enough. Economic challenges have resulted in too many communities seeing their local newspapers being forced to lay off staff, cut back on publication days or — worse yet — close. On average, two newspapers are closing each week. That hurts local businesses and residents in the long (and short) run.  However, despite the challenges, what remains true is that local newspapers make a difference in their communities.

But, don’t just take my word for it. Let’s look at the numbers and why America’s Newspapers has been pushing for the Community News & Small Business Support Act to be introduced.