Local news organizations could receive $1.7 billion as part of Biden’s Build Back Better Act

The Build Back Better Act has allocated nearly $1.7 billion for local news organizations in the form of tax credits.

If the act passes, local news outlets will be given $1.67 billion, collectively, over the next five years. Recipients could include any locally-focused newspapers, websites, radio, TV stations, and other outlets. It could mean as much as $25,000 per “locally focused journalist” who is employed during the first year and $15,000 each subsequent year. Companies would not receive a check for the amount, but would see a payroll tax credit.

Traditional news outlets have taken a hit during the 21st century as news has become increasingly digitized. In 2008, there were 71,000 journalists employed by newspapers. Last year, there were 31,000- a 26% dropTwo hundred US counties have no newspaper, and 2,100 newspapers have shut down since 2004. 

Outlets that would benefit from the act include The Storm Lake Times, EO Media, and Gannett. The Storm Lake Times could see $200,000 worth of federal subsidies in the first year and $500,000 during the next four.

EO Media owns several newspapers in the Pacific Northwest and could see $1.2 million during the first year and $2.9 million during the next four. Gannett, which owns even more newspapers, rendering it the largest US newspaper chain, could see $37.5 million the first year and tens of millions in the four years following.

On November 19, the act was passed in the House. Now, it’s sitting in the Senate, which is split 50-48-2, Republicans to Democrats to Independents, both of whom tend to side with Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris, the president of the Senate, can issue a tie-breaking vote should it be that close. The act will require a simple majority, not a two-thirds majority, to pass.

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