Local journalism in New York gets big boost with first-ever NYS payroll tax credit

Local journalism gets big boost
Photo via Getty Images

Local journalism outlets across the Empire State will receive payroll tax credits as a part of the approved state budget to help keep editors and reporters employed, and deliver the news New Yorkers need. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature unveiled the final state budget Saturday with this added tax credit modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, making New York the first state in the country to incentivize hiring and retaining local journalists. 

“I’m elated that the State Legislature passed our first-in-the-nation Newspaper and Broadcast Media Jobs Program tax incentive in this year’s state budget,” said state Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan), the act’s primary sponsor in the state Senate; Assembly Member Carrie Woerner (D-Washington/Warren Counties) was the Assembly sponsor.. “This new initiative will help strengthen local news coverage by creating a $90 million tax credit to hire and retain journalists for qualifying, independently owned print media or broadcasting entities, particularly those that have experienced workforce or circulation decline in the last five years. With this new tax credit, we’ll help ensure that New Yorkers are better informed and that democracy doesn’t die in darkness.”

Justin Henry, a spokesperson for Hochul, said that the measure would help preserve “New York’s status as a global media capital and a hub for enterprising journalists.”

“The Enacted Budget builds on Governor Hochul’s commitment to creating and sustaining good-paying jobs and her belief that a free press is central to a healthy democracy,” Henry said.

Local journalism in New York gets big boost
Manhattan state Senator Brad Hoylman-SigalNY State Senate

Under the program, New York’s newsrooms will receive $30 million a year over the next three years. Eligible outlets can receive a 50% refundable credit toward the first $50,000 of a journalist’s salary, with up to $300,000 in credits provided per outlet. The bill specifically allocates $4 million to incentivize print and broadcast outlets to hire new journalists, and the remaining $26 million will be split evenly among the outlets with fewer than 100 employees and those with more than 100 employees.

All of this ensures that hyperlocal, independent news organizations can access funding, and remain sustainable.

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Hoylman-Sigal noted that “the decline of local news across the country has led to the loss of one-third of newspapers and two-thirds of its journalists since 2005, leaving more than 200 counties as ‘news deserts’ without access to local news.”

Through petition drives, letter-writing campaigns, editorials and advertisements led by local newspapers, elected officials and labor unions warning about the state’s local journalism decline, the effort succeeded in getting the Local Journalism Sustainability Act passed and funded for the next three years.

Many publishers and editors see the act as a way to keep local news strong in New York after years in which the industry has suffered from financial losses, layoffs and newspaper closures statewide.

“This tax credit will provide a great opportunity for publishers to invest in their businesses at a critical time to help the transition to a digital future,” said Joshua Schneps, CEO of Schneps Media, the parent company of amNewYork Metro. “It was great to see industry leaders come together to successfully advocate on each other’s behalf and have the leadership and support of elected officials.”