Days after it was dropped from the House version of the budget bill, a tax credit to help pay the salaries of local journalists is back in. The measure still needs to win inclusion in the Senate’s version and survive any further reduction of the $1.75 trillion target total. Still, the move represents a big improvement in prospects for the subsidy.
Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America, and Dean Ridings, CEO of industry association America’s Newspapers, both credited the turnaround to publishers and owners communicating the severity of the financial crisis in local news to their representatives.
The credit would pay half the salary of journalists up to $50,000 for the year after it passes, 30% for four years after that. A rough estimate of the price tag is $1 billion the first year.
Waldman added that the House version is now aligned with the Senate draft on important details. Among them: including broadcasters, public and commercial; strengthening rules to screen out political advocacy groups; and a limit on how much a single corporation can receive.
In summary, Waldman said, “This is a huge step forward for a strong, local press — and for the communities they serve.”
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