Where would you get your local news if this newspaper ceased to exist?

It’s a question too many communities have had to figure out in recent years as local newspapers have shut down or reduced staff.

Your first thought might be Facebook, and indeed many of us follow news outlets on that social media site. But as much as we all rely on Facebook to keep up with our friends and family, it is not a newspaper. No one working for Facebook is doing the actual journalism. Facebook is just taking stories from newspapers and other news outlets and occasionally showing them in your feed. If there’s no one producing the actual news stories, Facebook won’t share them.

Not to mention the fact that Facebook is often more rumor mill than actual truth. How do you know that post from your old high school classmate is fact-checked? What are their sources? If they get something wrong, what sort of accountability guidelines do they have in place? Someone’s friend of a friend who knows a guy may have the scoop that Buc-ee’s is coming to town, but has anyone actually called the corporate office to see if this is true? This is what your local newspaper does behind the scenes all the time. If we can’t prove something is true, we don’t publish it. Facebook does not have the same publishing standards.

Your next thought may be the national networks. They cover news all the time! But neither CNN or Fox News attend your local city council meetings or care about what’s in your school’s budget. They might parachute in to cover a big news story one day, but they don’t stick around for very long when they do. Meanwhile, your local newspaper has been here for more than a century.

The fact is that local newspapers provide a vital service to their communities, and one that’s often underappreciated until it’s gone.

A bill recently submitted in the U.S. House (H.R. 3940) and U.S. Senate (S. 2434) aims to keep local newspapers in business. Dubbed the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, it is a series of temporary tax credits that would benefit newspapers, readers and advertisers alike. It’s a win-win-win situation, and we encourage you to contact U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to tell them to support it.

The bill provides three main tax incentives in order to help newspapers transition to a more sustainable business model over the next five years:

— Subscription credits for readers would cover up to $250 annually for five years in news subscription costs, providing an incentive for readers to support local journalism directly. How that impacts you: A Longview News-Journal subscription costs about $200 a year. This would pay for that entirely and keep you in the loop about your local community.

— Journalist compensation credits would provide newsrooms up to $25,000 for the first year and up to $15,000 in the next four years to hire more reporters and expand their local journalism efforts. This would offset staffing and reporting cuts that many newsrooms have had to make in the wake of financial challenges, and it would significantly improve the journalism newspapers are able to produce. We often have to balance resources and time in our coverage, and this would allow us to cover more local news for you, our readers.

— Advertising credits would provide local businesses up to $5,000 in the first year and up to $2,500 in the next four years to spend on advertising with their local news outlets, boosting their visibility and sales. Advertising in your local newspaper means local readers will spend their dollars locally — and everyone’s economic outlook improves. Our community thrives when we read local, buy local and promote local.

Our society cannot afford to lose our newspapers. They’re too important for the health of our democracy. The tax credits would also help boost our local economy by increasing advertising and civic participation. If there’s one thing local newspapers do above all else, that’s champion local people, businesses and efforts. That’s what these tax credits also seek to do.

We need the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, and we need you to send that message to Congress.

CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES:

Senator John Cornyn

Washington, DC Office:

517 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Main: (903) 224-2934

East Texas Office:

Regions Bank Building, 100 E. Ferguson Street, Suite 1004, Tyler, TX 75702

Main: (903) 593-0902

Fax: (903) 593-0920

Senator Ted Cruz

Washington, DC Office:

127A Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Main: (202) 224-5922

East Texas Office: 305 S. Broadway, Suite 501, Tyler, TX 75702

Main: (903) 593-5130

Congressman Louie Gohmert:

Washington, DC Office: 2269 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515

Main: (202) 225-3035

Fax: (202) 226-1230

TX Toll Free: (866) 535-6302

Tyler Office: 1121 ESE Loop 323, Suite 206, Tyler, TX, 75701

Main: (903) 561-6349

Fax: (903) 561-7110

Recommended for You