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Rep. Fitzpatrick backs bill to bolster community journalism


U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1, has thrown his support behind a bill he hopes will “jumpstart local investments” in community newspapers.

Introduced last month by New York Republican Claudia Tenney and Washington Democrat Suzan K. DelBene and co-sponsored by Fitzpatrick and Indiana Democrat Andre Carson, H.R. 4756 would establish tax incentives that support local media companies.

The bill would provide a tax credit for small businesses — those with fewer than 50 full-time employees — that advertise in a local newspaper, radio or television station. The tax credit would be $5,000 in the first year and $2,500 in subsequent years.

It would also provide a quarterly payroll credit on 50% of the employment taxes owed on the salary of a local journalist. In the second year, the percentage would drop to 30%. The credit is capped at 1,500 employees and $12,500 per calendar quarter in the first year and $7,500 in the following years.

“Local journalism is essential to communities and neighborhoods across the country in providing up to date information and news that local residents simply cannot get from other sources during uncertain times,” Fitzpatrick said Tuesday in a statement. “Locally-sourced news delivers not only community-centered reporting but also preserves our local character.”

Fitzpatrick called the decline in local journalism “a concerning trend.”

“I am hopeful that the bipartisan Community News and Small Business Support Act can jumpstart local investments into this important driver of our civic culture and ensure that hometown newspapers are able to grow and continue to publish important news stories that matter to our communities.”

It isn’t the first time since the start of the pandemic that bills incentivizing support for community journalism have turned up in the U.S. House.

In July 2020 and again in June 2021, House members pushed the similar Local Journalism Sustainability Act but, in neither case, did the act make it out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Fitzpatrick is hoping for a better outcome this time around.

“I am proud to cosponsor this legislation, and believe that the bill can serve as a unifying cause to bolster our local communities for both Republicans and Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee.”

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