As a local paper, we need your support

FROM STAFF REPORTS / Editorial

Like most businesses and people during the COVID-19 pandemic, local newspapers and journalists are struggling, including us at the Shelby County Reporter.

But help could soon be on the way thanks to a bipartisan proposal introduced in the House of Representatives known as the Local Journalism Sustainability ACT.

The proposal, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) and U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), would help support local newspapers across the United States by offering tax relief to small business, residents and local newspapers.

It’s a proposal that would rely heavily on those three groups working together for a tax credit to help local newspapers do their jobs during a difficult time.

As local journalists, we pride ourselves in not only reporting on the community and creating relationships, but working tirelessly to inform those living in the community on all important news.

But with the spread of COVID-19, that has been more challenging than ever with our editorial staff being cut in half from what it was a year ago at this time.

Some of that has to do with the pandemic and some of it doesn’t, but the staff can’t grow to do its job properly until the economy starts to get back to normal, which starts with the support and help of both the readers in the community and proposals like this.

With the proposed bill, tax credits would be available for up to five years to subscribers, advertisers and print or online publications for local newspapers.

For subscribers, there would be a $250 tax credit annually for the next five years, which would cover 80 percent of subscription costs the first year and 50 percent of costs the next four years.

The bill would also help with advertising, which drives the majority of local newspaper revenue. That revenue, however, has taken a major hit with the economy struggling and businesses not wanting to spend as much money on advertising due to their own revenue being down.

The proposal includes a tax credit of up to $5,000 worth of advertising costs for the first year and $2,500 for the following four years. The offer would be available to small businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees and would allow those businesses to advertise, while also supporting local journalism.

In addition to those incentives to help support newspapers, the bill would also offer a payroll credit for newspapers of up to $25,000 in year one and $15,000 each of the next four years to help properly reimburse local journalists.

It’s a proposal that would make an incredible difference across the country by allowing local newspapers to not only continue covering your communities, but recover from an economic downturn.

Please take the time to contact U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer to ask for his support on the bill so we can continue to provide Shelby County with the best local news coverage possible and recover from a difficult time.