'Newspapers are infrastructure' bill in Senate will support mainstream media, not new reporting sites - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, December 8, 2021
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‘Newspapers are infrastructure’ bill in Senate will support mainstream media, not new reporting sites

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In what’s been compared to putting a dead man on a ventilator, Democrat senators led by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Edmonds, Washington, are planning to use $2.3 billion in public funds to underwrite local newspapers and broadcasters as part of President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

The money would come in the form of grants and tax credits, and newspapers across the country are welcoming the help.

The Seattle Times editorial board encouraged its readers to contact their lawmakers to support the plan, which will be introduced by Cantwell this week. The request to readers from the family-owned company came in an editorial titled, Support U.S. Sen. Cantwell’s outstanding proposal for news.” The Friday editorial documented the demise of newspapers across the country and the need for government financial backing; the newspaper even removed the paywall on the editorial so more people would be able to read it without a paid digital subscription.

The Times has an estimated annual revenue of $25 million and is thought to have 650 employees. It will qualify for the grant program.

The new bill is in addition to the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which was introduced last year and would give tax credits to subscribers of newspapers, as well as to those that hire newspaper journalists, and small businesses that buy local advertising in newspapers.

Democrat Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, along with 57 Democrats and 20 Republicans, have cosponsored the “sustainability” bill that would, if passed, give up to:

  • $250 per year per person/subscriber, covering 80 percent of a subscription fees to local newspapers for the first tax year and 50 percent for subsequent years.
  • $50,000 per year for each local newspaper to reduce employment taxes and to hire and pay journalists.
  • $5,000 per year for each small businesses to cover 80 percent of advertising with local media, which includes newspapers and broadcast stations, and up to $2,500 per year for subsequent four years to help small businesses pay for their advertising.

Local newspaper is defined as print or digital publication with news and current events as its primary content, and at least 51 percent of its readers (including both print and digital versions) as residents of a single state, or in cases where a newspaper serves a border community, (think August Chronicle) within a 200-mile radius. Newspapers such as the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, and Fairbanks News-Miner would qualify. Broadcasters would also qualify, but alternative digital news sites such as Must Read Alaska, which has local readership but no traditional employees, would not likely qualify.

According to a report produced by Cantwell’s office, “Local Journalism: America’s Most Trusted News Sources Threatened,” the decline in local news revenues has led to the newspaper industry to release about 60 percent of its journalistic workforce since 2005. In Alaska, newspaper newsroom employment dropped from 179 in 2005 to 120, according to Cantwell’s research, a 67 percent drop in employment in the sector.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Government subsidized news media, no moral hazard there.

    Canada does this, and Canada is basically a totalitarian state now.

  • Meanwhile Alaska’s media politically advocate for the Legislature to “make the tough decision” and enact new taxes, while hiding from taxation as 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations (a tax status that comes with prohibitions on political advocacy) appear to be staffed with individuals struggling to spell “hypocr___”.
    It appears the use of non-profit status among media corporations is now so prevalent nationally that congress can only give tax breaks to subscribers, not media corporations?

  • Our Madam Editor is not sufficiently “traditional” to qualify for media bailout money?
    Might be fun to hire some of Must Read’s contributors as consultants, cartoonists, reporters, whatever satisfies media bailout money requirements.
    Dollar a year salary, corner office suite, access to Must Read’s corporate jet… this could work, yes?

  • And you’d have the best looking boss in the media compelling you to keep writing!

  • I find it difficult, as a former resident of Washington State, to believe or trust anything Cantwell or Murray say or do.

  • I can’t think of a bigger threat to America. Real journalism is doing just fine, you just can’t find it in the legacy media is all, you have to find alternative platforms and places. I certainly don’t want my tax dollars to fund the government mouthpieces.

  • So we are now willing to admit that there is indeed a State Media? How else should I view this?

  • Isn’t this akin to bribery?
    What happened to news organization/journalism as the fourth executive arm keeping the other three honest? Or are we now a completely socialist form of government?

  • Somewhat akin to subsidizing horses because these new fangled automobiles will put the livery stables out of business. Mainstream media-looking at AP and the NYT buried the famine in Ukraine and the Holocaust to protect their heroes Stalin and Hitler. No mainstream media is reliable any more and they should be allowed to die a natural death

  • I wonder if Senator Cantwell ever heard of or perhaps read ‘Bent pins to chains’ in her vast research about Alaskan Newpapers..??

  • Love the above comments…
    Lame-stream media… there is a reason they require subsidies to stay afloat… More to the point, the alt-left is rewarding their supporters and promoters. It’s a safe bet there is not a single conservative organization that qualifies for these grants. You can imagine the howling & shrieking if even Fox News gets a grant.

  • Pay for play……

  • Wow. Another blow to free market capitalism by controlled market communism.
    The product (newspapers/media) is failing in the free market. Consumers are “voting” with their dollars. There is still intrinsic value in the product (collection, analysis and dissemination of ideas), but the consumers are just not satisfied. So, the groveling for federal “common property” dollars begins. The government, understanding the intrinsic, albeit mismanaged value of the product, is happy to step up and supply those dollars. There will be just a few caveats, here and there, nothing to worry about. A few regulations, a couple permits required, reviews and approval of all content by the beauracrats which, by the way, are also paid with those communal dollars. We can’t hurt anyone’s feelings, of course, for any reason, especially those who lack the mental fortitude to think about what they read and base their daily and life-long actions upon their conclusions, so make sure we keep it simple enough to satisfy even the lowest common denominator, shall we. And of course, since everyone must be equal in every way, we will make sure everyone gets exactly the same content, and aww, what the heck, at exactly the same time. Quick, I hear the bell ringing, time for “the news.”

  • Will they fund a competitor against the ADN??

  • Canada’s news is entitled “Global News”. Isn’t that endearing? So controlled. How unsafe for disunited Alaska (from the US). You just need an approved personality to display former “Alaska” rights. I sense a trend. Too bad about the testosterone.

  • Well isn’t that something.
    I guess they’ve decided to now pay their government/News/propaganda people off openly, now that they are in office and in charge of the money. This wreaks of a transparent payoff. And so the non-objective, coverup, propaganda reporting continues, the bill has been paid.

  • To subsidize the press is to limit the press.

  • Of course the democrats are willing give our money to the leftwing corrupt media, they are selling their propaganda. ADN has been a leftist rag for over 30 years and Alaska “News” Source is definitely in the tank for the democrats like Walker and Dunbar.

  • Who were the 20 Republican senators?

  • A government funded one party press? Doubtless this is what our Founders had in mind.

  • Did you know that the Anchorage Press, the same people who posted a picture comparing the Trump supporters to Al Qaeda, got $15000 of CARES act funds for “community outreach” about Covid?

  • Sure, as long as 50% of the money is allocated by Democrats and 50% by Republicans.

  • They will now pay the newspapers, because they have become an arm of the DNC, the new “ministry of truth” and to pay for it, they will bilk the same taxpayers they loathe to fund their campaigns and spread propaganda. This is the new normal.

  • More corporate welfare for Democrats. The Left-wing media has no clue how to successfully run a business, especially one that tries brainwashing their customers with lies and crap. This leftist sustainability bailout is the same thing the government does to buoy NPR from sinking. Disgusting Communist theft of taxpayer’s money by Biden and his Democrat ilk.

  • Will they next be doing the same thing with restaurants? I mean, they are infrastructure. Everyone has to eat. The little Mom and Pop eating joints and corner food trucks supply some really good local food, better than the big chains in many cases. However, if the big chains are suffering revenue loss due to the local competition, well the government can just subsidize and pay them to keep serving up the same old crap.

  • Freedom of the press can never be constrained except by despots. A state may not give unalienable rights of posterity away.

  • Complete horse hockey pucks. This is a complete abuse of power as they steal from the taxpayers to give to the ones lying to us daily. No one is listening to their false narratives anymore and their ratings are plummeting so now they will raid the already overloaded and over spent coffers with the blessing of the sold out politicians. Government tyranny at its finest! The communist propaganda machine is in full operation to continue their brainwashing of the mindless lemmings still watching or reading their crap.

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