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Editorial | Save local news in New York: A message to ‘the three people in the room’

Mar. 30, 2023 Schneps Media

It’s time for the “three people in the room” traditionally responsible for working out New York’s annual budget to deliver a front-page rescue for New York state’s journalism industry.

That rescue comes in the form of the “Local Journalism Sustainability Act” (S.625/A.2958), one of the many legislative items now before Assembly Speaker Heastie, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Governor Kathy Hochul as they work to hammer out a new state budget by the April 1 deadline.

Including the act in the final state budget for this year would send a powerful message from the “three people in the room”: That local journalism matters just as much to them as it does to you, and that it must be kept as strong as possible.

Should it become law, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act would work an economic miracle for newspapers large and small across the Empire State, keeping many news operations open for business and employing thousands of journalists responsible for holding the powerful accountable, and informing the public.

In recent years, newsrooms across the Empire State have decreased in size; some have shuttered altogether. Between 2004 and 2019, according to the Rebuild Local News Coalition, the total number of New York daily newspapers declined from 62 to 54, while the number of weekly newspapers plunged from 439 to 249.

More than $150 million in tax credits would be provided over the next five years to keep the state’s local news industry afloat, saving thousands of journalism jobs in the process. By contrast, that’s just a fraction of the $700 million in filming tax credits through 2034 proposed in the very same budget plan now under consideration. 

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act will strengthen and reinvigorate journalism in New York at a critical time. It will ensure that your local newspapers and websites will always be there to tell you what’s going on, what you need to know, and what you ought to know.

The fate of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act in the new state budget rests with Governor Kathy Hochul (center, at podium), Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (far left) and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (far right).Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

New York’s editors and publishers, including ourselves, are working hard to make sure the Local Journalism Sustainability Act becomes a budget fixture in New York beginning this year. Our reporting and editorials have aroused public interest, and we thank all of you who have phoned or emailed your local state senator or assembly member urging them to pass the act into law.

The fact is, we need more state legislators to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill. That’s a huge step to help ensure its passage. 

We also need to make sure that Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins understand the importance of local journalism to both them and their constituents. 

As the budget deadline nears, please do your part to help local journalists in New York by calling the offices of Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and urging them to include the Local Journalism Sustainability Act in the final budget plan!

Governor Kathy Hochul: 518-474-8390

Speaker Carl Heastie: 518-455-3791

Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins: 518-455-2585

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