OC Press Club Endorses Local News Employment Tax Credit Bill

The Board of Directors sent the following letter to Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) in support of SB 1327 on May 21, 2024.

Dear Senator Min,

We strongly encourage you to support the proposed local news employment credits, which could truly revitalize community news in California. It could dramatically improve the capacity of newsrooms to cover their communities, and is especially attentive to the role of medium- and small-sized outlets, whose survival is most at risk.

As publishers of news in Orange County, we appreciate that the newsroom support approach in the SB 1327 recognizes the numerous nuances in business operations of for-profits and non-profits, urban and rural, and for those both employing full-time staff and rosters of freelancers.

It’s important to understand why supporting local journalism employment is fundamental to the future of local news in California.

In California, since 2004, we have lost an astounding 68% of journalists, as well as 25 percent of our newspapers. Total news circulation has dropped more than 50 percent.

Much research, and commonsense, tells us that communities poor in news see far less public engagement, lower voting and reduced civil debate. Strong local news is as much a public good as are our schools, libraries and hospitals – and integral to the success of all those institutions.

To the end of reversing that decline, we believe the use of employment tax credits will be transformative.

Importantly, the proposed credits keep the state out of the business of picking winners or losers, comfortably compatible with the First Amendment and the need to protect the editorial independence of news outlets. Simply, news operations that maintain and grow their journalism workforces get help in doing so, as market conditions challenge long-used business models.

In addition, we believe the framework supports innovation to come as well, by opening space for publishers to enter new markets and better serve communities of all kinds.

The distribution of funding to news outlets is one we hope California can join in providing model leadership, joining similar laws, one recently passed in New York State and another last year in Canada.

While we understand that there is more legislative debate and discussion to come in this area, including how such funding can best be financed, we underline our support for the instrument of payroll tax credits – best delineated in SB 1327.


The Orange County Press Club

Posted in News.