Local journalism act included in budget

A payroll tax credit for local news outlets, modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, has been included in the final New York state budget approved over the weekend.

New York is now the first state in the nation to incentivize hiring and retaining local journalists. Creation of the tax credit comes months after the launch of the Empire State Local News Coalition, a grassroots campaign powered by more than 200 community newspapers across the state.

“I’m elated that our first-in-the-nation Local Journalism Sustainability Act is passing in the state budget,” said Brad Hoylman-Sigal, D-New York City and sponsor of the legislation in the state Senate. “A thriving local news industry is vital to the health of our democracy and it’s our responsibility to help ensure New Yorkers have access to independent and community-focused journalism. Thank you to Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Governor Hochul, our Assembly Sponsor Woerner and the over 200 local publications of the Empire State Local News Coalition who helped pass our bill. Our efforts will help ensure that our democracy will not die in darkness.”

The program–$30 million per year for three years–allows each eligible newspaper and broadcast business to receive a 50% refundable tax credit against the first $50,000 of an employee’s salary, up to a total of $300,000 per business. $4 million will be allocated to incentivize print and broadcast businesses to hire new journalists. The remaining $26 million will be split evenly between businesses with fewer than 100 employees and those with more than 100 employees, ensuring that hyperlocal, independent news organizations have a fair shot at access to these funds.

After stalling for years, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act moved in the legislature this year after the early-2024 founding of the Empire State Local News Coalition and the coalition’s mobilization of support from hundreds of New York hometown papers as well as a broad range stakeholders from around the country, including the Rebuild Local News Coalition, Microsoft, and El Diario. Organized labor including NYS AFL-CIO, CWA District 1, and national and local news guilds also played a role in mobilizing support for the bill.

“We are very happy and not surprised by the support New York state has shown in including the Journalism Sustainability Act in the 2025 budget,” said Michael Bird, publisher of The Post-Journal and Dunkirk OBSERVER. “We are very appreciative of the support from all legislators in this important initiative. The state has shown with this support how important high quality, reliable and local reporting is to every community across New York state as well as the rest of the country in which I am sure other states will now follow New York’s lead. This act will help our publications in Chautauqua County continue to increase the coverage and more in-depth reporting efforts that are crucial to the citizens of our community to give awareness of the happenings in our own backyards each and every day.”

Since launching in February, the coalition has quickly mobilized stakeholders across the state to rally behind the bill. In addition to rallying with grassroots advocates in Westchester and Albany, members led petition drives, letter-writing campaigns, editorials, and advertisements sounding the alarm on the decline of local journalism.

New York’s leadership on this issue could change the course of local journalism in the U.S. The budget’s inclusion of this tax credit comes at a watershed moment for the journalism industry: New York State has experienced hundreds of newspaper closures in the past few decades.

“The Empire State Local News Coalition is thrilled by the state budget’s inclusion of a payroll tax credit for local news outlets modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. New York is now the first state in the nation to incentivize hiring and retaining local journalists-a critical investment given that hundreds of New York’s newspapers have closed since 2004, leaving too many New York communities without access to vital local information. The objectivity of this credit shows that there is a fair way for public policy to support local news without jeopardizing journalistic integrity. This program is a model for other states across the U.S. to follow as communities across the country raise their voices to save local news” said Zachary Richner, founder of the Empire State Local News Coalition.

“We’re incredibly proud of the 200 newspapers in our coalition, which built an unprecedented grassroots movement in support of saving New York’s local news industry in a few short months. We’re especially grateful to Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, whose tireless advocacy for this tax credit was instrumental in moving it through the legislative process. The coalition thanks Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, Assembly Sponsor Carrie Woerner, and the entire legislature for supporting this industry-saving policy, and we look forward to continuing our advocacy for local news in the years to come,” Richner continued. “Other states and stakeholders interested in replicating this playbook and hearing about lessons learned should reach out to us at info@savenylocalnews.com.”


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