How Congress could step in to help struggling local media

“It’s really local news that reports on the issues that people face in their daily lives,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said at the start of a hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, the antitrust and consumer rights earlier this month.

Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, are two main co-sponsors of a bipartisan bill called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2021.

The bill resembles an approach taken by Australia and some European countries that seek to give content creators a share of advertising revenue gobbled up by big tech companies, including Google and Meta, Facebook’s parent company.

The antitrust legislation is one of many bills that have been introduced at the federal and state level aimed at helping struggling local news organizations.

Another proposal, the Local News Sustainability Act, would use tax credits to incentivize businesses to advertise to local media and people to subscribe to them. It also includes a deduction from social charges to support journalists’ salaries. Parts of the proposed law were included in the Build Back Better Bill which passed the US House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate.

Similar bills have been introduced by the state legislatures of New York, New Jersey and Wisconsin, by both Democrats and Republicans.

The government’s latest efforts are aimed at helping a newspaper industry that the Pew Research Center estimates has seen a 50% drop in weekday readership and a 57% drop in newsroom jobs.

This Sunday on 60 Minutes, correspondent Jon Wertheim reported on another threat to local newspapers, the financial firms that have bought up newspapers across the country and emptied newsrooms. You can watch Wertheim’s report below.


“An attack on our democracy”: financial companies empty some local newsrooms

13:28

The video above was produced by Keith Zubrow and Sarah Shafer Prediger. It was edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.

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