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CLEMONS: Local journalism bill merits support
David Clemons
David Clemons

As the publisher of a local newspaper, I clearly have a vested interest in the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.

But as a reader, you do too.

A bill with bipartisan support, House Resolution 3940 would allow local newspapers and other media a lifeline in difficult times exacerbated by the pandemic.

And before you think of it as just a bailout for journalists, think again.

HR 3940 has many facets that would benefit small businesses just like the ones I can see from my window on South Broad Street in Monroe, and those in Covington and Newton County.

For advertising in local newspapers, radio or television stations, a small business — defined as one with fewer than 50 employees — would receive a five-year nonrefundable tax credit, to cover up to $5,000 in advertising costs the first year and $2,500 in the subsequent four years.

Meanwhile, newspapers like ours would receive up to $85,000 in credits over five years for employment and compensation of journalists. That means we have the wherewithal to keep competent journalists on the ground in our communities, covering the news and avoiding the plague of governments operating in darkness.

And you, dear reader, would receive a five-year nonrefundable credit of up to $250 a year as an incentive to subscribe.

Small newspapers like this one connect communities. We saw the importance of publishing timely, accurate information during the pandemic, and clearly readers responded. Our numbers were never higher.

But the challenges are great, including competition from tech giants who have brought unfair muscle to the game, leveraging their reach to deliver our content without compensation. I urge our local lawmakers to support HR 3940 and hope you’ll do the same.

David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Walton Tribune in Monroe and former publisher of The Covington News. Email: