Growing number of localities adopt resolutions supporting local journalism

As lawmakers in Albany negotiate the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, three Westchester localities adopted resolutions expressing their support for the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, a bipartisan bill that provides tax credits for the employment of local journalists.

This latest development from the Village of Dobbs Ferry, the Village of Elmsford and the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson signals growing political support for a grassroots movement spearheaded by the Empire State Local News Coalition, a group of over 150 local newspapers advocating for policy solutions to bolster the future of the journalism industry in the state.

Sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Carrie Woerner, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act would provide news organizations with a refundable tax credit for a portion of each newsroom employee’s salary. The bill is content-neutral and designed to ensure that truly local news outlets will receive this assistance.

As newspapers shutter and layoffs roil the industry, the bill is a critical measure for incentivizing job creation, returning reporters to many of the state’s emptying newsrooms. A version of the bill was included in the state Senate’s budget resolution, a key step as lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul negotiate the final state budget. 

In March, Westchester elected officials, grassroots advocates and the Empire State Local News Coalition rallied at the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library to advocate for the bill after The Scarsdale Inquirer, Rivertowns Enterprise and Bedford Review Record suspended publication. The announcement underscored the growing challenges local newspapers face, which has prompted a groundswell of support among community members and local officials who seek to save the industry. 

These advocacy efforts come at a crucial time for journalism in New York, advocates say. The state has experienced a 50% decrease in the number of newspapers since 2004, resulting in thousands of lost jobs. There is a growing number of communities with little to no access to local newspaper coverage: 13 New York counties are down to just one newspaper and Orleans County is the first with no local newspaper at all. The legislation will incentivize more hiring opportunities to help strengthen a workforce that has been severely affected by mass layoffs and closures. 

“Local news tells stories about our community, building a record about a shared past, present and future. I’m proud that residents of Hastings-on-Hudson are speaking up and urging legislators to take action to save journalism and protect democracy. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act is a crucial first step to ensure that our much-loved local newspapers endure for many generations to come,” said Mayor Nicola Armacost of Hastings-on-Hudson.

“For too long, we’ve witnessed the erosion of local newspapers across our state, and now more than ever, we must extend a lifeline to our communities’ newsrooms. We’re excited to seize the opportunity with the Local Journalism Sustainability Act to reignite local storytelling and connection, as every community deserves a platform to amplify their narratives, celebrate their successes, and address their challenges,” saidMayor Robert Williams, Village of Elmsford. 

“Local news reporting plays a vital role in the success of a small community.  The Local Journalism Sustainability Act is an essential legislative priority for reversing the concerning trend of shuttering newsrooms in our state. Without our hometown newspapers, our communities will lose a valuable platform for sharing our stories and building connections. Dobbs Ferry is proud to join the growing chorus of voices calling on Governor Hochul and the State Legislature to pass this industry-saving bill” said Vincent Rossillo, mayor of Dobbs Ferry.

“These resolutions demonstrate there is growing consensus around the imperative to pass the Local Journalism Sustainability Act this budget cycle,” said Zachary Richner, Founder of the Empire State Local News Coalition. “Local newspapers play a critical role in communities across the state, functioning as a town square for the exchange of ideas and information among residents. If lawmakers do not act, countless communities will lose their stories and we’ll all live in a more fragmented, polarized society.

Those seeking to join the movement in support of local news, including how to move forward local resolutions, can contact [email protected]