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Hundreds lobby state legislators to support local journalism

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By Marlene McTigue

Capital Region Independent Media

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-113, left, co-sponsor of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, meets with, left to right, journalist Kayla DeMicco and Capital Region Independent Media’s Marlene McTigue, Mark Vinciguerra, Kathy Viciguerra and Warren Dews Jr. Contributed photo

ALBANY — Members of Capital Region Independent Media’s leadership team traveled to the state Capitol on Feb. 27 to join with other industry leaders in support of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.

Capital Region Independent Media publishes the Greenville Pioneer, the Ravena News-Herald and The Columbia Paper.

The bill, dubbed A.2958/S.625, sponsored by Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-113, and state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, D-47, would allow for news organizations to receive a 50% job creation tax credit on the first $50,000 of a local journalist’s salary, with a maximum benefit of $25,000 per journalist. There is a cap of $1 million per newsroom, with eligibility defined to ensure that only legitimate news employers are supported.

The legislation is co-sponsored by 36 members of the Assembly and 20 members of the state Senate to date.

Proponents of the law say it would stem the tide of newspaper closures and offer newspapers a bridge to a self-sustaining new business model. New York’s local news organizations are uniting to do what they can to help stem that tide.  

In early February, a statewide group of local news organizations, comprising over 100 local newspapers, launched the Empire State Local News Coalition, a joint advocacy effort to advance the legislation that would deliver long-term sustainability to the sector.

Zachary Richner is the coalition’s founder and executive director, and director at Richner Communications on Long Island.  

“Our industry must advocate for sound public policy that supports the great work our journalists do in their communities day in and day out,” Richner said. “We formed the Empire State Local News Coalition, which comprises over 150 print and digital New York newspapers, to intensify this advocacy work. Each week we hear of another news organization shuttering. It is clear that we cannot wait any longer to enact the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.”

“All New Yorkers deserve to have their voices heard, and hometown newspapers are key to that mission,” he continued. “We urge government officials and local stakeholders to rally behind us, safeguarding democracy and bolstering the future of local journalism in New York.” 

Mark Vinciguerra, president of Capital Region Independent Media, supports the legislation. 

“The bottom line is that this proposed legislation would be a major game changer. We would be able to increase the number and type of journalists we have on staff. It would allow us to cover more beats, do more video reporting, investigative reporting and expand our ‘Good News’ initiative we have started,” Vinciguerra said. 

Libby Post, president of Progressive Public Affairs and a registered lobbyist for the Albany Newspaper Guild, was one of the event organizers who helped advocates navigate their way through the day as they sought to meet with their representatives. 

“Including the act in the state budget means creating journalism jobs and protecting democracy     — both of which we need now more than ever,” Post said.

The bill is supported by news organizations throughout the state, the New York News Publishers Association, the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters (who represent pressroom employees) and the Communications Workers of America. 

To learn more about advocating for local journalism, visit https://www.savenylocalnews.com

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