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Citizen support needed to get Local Journalism Sustainability Act included in NYS budget

By Howard B. Owens

The Batavian is among more than 150 local news organizations supporting the passage of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.

We are all part of the Empire State Local News Coalition.

The work of the coalition has raised awareness of the importance of local journalism and the challenges facing the local news industry. (New York has lost half of its newsrooms since 2004.) 

In just the past month, the coalition rallied in Westchester, where residents were stunned by the abrupt closure of three community newspapers. We went directly to Albany to appeal to lawmakers and rallied with elected officials from the Senate and Assembly. Numerous localities have adopted resolutions expressing their support for legislation that would support local journalism, and more municipal resolutions are in the pipeline. Even unconventional allies like Microsoft have joined our calls to save local news. 

Thanks to these collective efforts, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act – which would provide tax credits to local news organizations for retaining and creating newsroom jobs – was included in the State Senate’s recent budget proposal for fiscal year 2025. This is a key step for inclusion in the state's final budget, which is currently being negotiated by the Senate, Assembly and Governor Hochul. 

However, there is a lot of work to be done over the next few days, when the final budget will likely be announced, to ensure the bill is actually included in the state's final budget. It is crucial that the Local Journalism Sustainability Act is included; otherwise, communities throughout the state risk thousands of newsroom jobs being lost and even more important stories going untold.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act is sponsored by NYS Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal with the bipartisan support of Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and more than 70 co-sponsors. As newspapers shutter and layoffs roil the industry, the bill is necessary for incentivizing job creation, returning reporters to many of the state's emptying newsrooms. The bill is content-neutral and designed to ensure that truly local news outlets will receive this assistance. The leadership of the Legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus has also endorsed our bill, which is a major testament to the fact that this bill will improve access to news for all communities. 

New Yorkers are standing with local news, and now lawmakers must answer the people’s call to save community journalism. To get the Local Journalism Sustainability Act across the finish line, lawmakers must hear from you about why our newspaper matters and why this bill is meaningful to you and your family. 

So, if keeping local news alive in our state is important to you, please contact Governor Hochul and your local representatives to let them know you support local news. Budget negotiations are wrapping up imminently—the time to act is now!

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