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NYS budget injects $30m into local journalism, boosts newsroom salaries

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In a landmark move to bolster local journalism, the New York State Legislature has approved a significant investment of $30 million in tax credits aimed at supporting the salaries of journalists across the state. The initiative, part of the New York State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2024-25 Budget, marks a pivotal step forward in recognizing the vital role of community media in sustaining a robust news ecosystem.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act, championed by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, received enthusiastic backing from legislative leaders and Governor Kathy Hochul. The bill, spearheaded by the Empire State Local News Coalition led by news publishing executive Zachary Richner, aims to fortify local news outlets by providing financial incentives to bolster newsroom staffing.

According to a statement from New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office, the legislation allocates $30 million annually over three years to cover half of the salaries of journalists, up to $50,000 per year per employee. Furthermore, news organizations stand to gain an additional $5,000 credit for each new journalist hired, incentivizing the expansion of newsrooms and local coverage.

Notably, the tax credit program excludes publicly-traded corporations, underscoring its focus on supporting independently owned and community-driven media entities.

The Center for Community Media has lauded this initiative, recognizing its potential to sustain and enhance the local news landscape, which has faced significant challenges in recent years.

With the bill now integrated into the state budget, it will undergo a regulatory process to finalize implementation details, ensuring efficient disbursement and utilization of the allocated funds.

In response to the escalating crisis within the news industry, New York State legislators have introduced a series of measures aimed at revitalizing local news outlets. Inspired by New York City’s pioneering Local Law 83, which mandates a portion of government advertising to be directed towards ethnic and community media, these proposals seek to address critical challenges faced by news organizations.

The Senate’s adoption of Resolution S625C signals a pivotal step in advancing these legislative efforts. This resolution proposes a payroll tax credit for independently owned media entities with fewer than 100 employees, capped at $20 million annually, further bolstering support for grassroots journalism initiatives.

The Center for Community Media continues to advocate for these legislative endeavors, emphasizing their importance in fostering a sustainable news ecosystem. By reallocating state advertising budgets and providing tax credits to local news outlets, these initiatives represent a critical lifeline for strengthening community journalism and preserving the diverse voices essential to informed civic engagement.

The passage of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act underscores a shared commitment to safeguarding the future of local journalism in New York State, setting a precedent for proactive measures to sustain an inclusive and vibrant media landscape.

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