If you're reading this sentence, it's probably because you value local news. So you may be surprised to hear that local news is collapsing around the country. The number of journalists has dropped 60% since 2000, and thousands of communities have either no newspaper or ghost newspapers that provide barely any local coverage.
We at the Source Weekly are trying to fill these gaps. But the collapse of the traditional advertising business models has made it far more difficult for local news outlets to provide the depth of coverage that you deserve.
Less local news coverage of course means less important information for you about matters in this community—schools, clean water, housing and homelessness and natural resources conservation, to name just a few.
And it's more than that. Local news helps us know each other, and fights against polarization and conspiracy theories. It's essential for communities to stick together and solve their own problems.
If this were a normal industry, we'd have advocated for government intervention a long time ago. But we in the press really don't like taking money from the government. How can we hold politicians accountable if they're giving us money?
Fortunately, some members of Congress have come with an extremely clever solution—a series of tax credits that amplifies the power of consumers and businesses. One provision would provide a tax credit to you, the consumer, to purchase a subscription to a local newspaper or make a donation to a nonprofit news organization. A second provision would give a payroll tax credit to news organizations if they maintain or grow the number of journalists. And the third provision would provide a $5,000 tax credit to small businesses here in Oregon to advertise with local news.
We still need to earn your support. But at least it will increase your buying power if you decide that we're worthy of your help.
This proposal could be a huge help to us—and therefore to the quality of the news. Democracy needs this help. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would address the catastrophic collapse of local news, in a way that will build a better local news system for the future.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR3) of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, need to hear your voices in support of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. We encourage you to write them in support of this important bill that benefits us all.
—The Source Weekly is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, an association that is a member of the Rebuild Local News Coalition, which supports this bill.