Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Pick up the phone now to contact your members of Congress and encourage them to add their support to a new proposal to allow local journalism to thrive in a media environment fraught with financial challenges and pitfalls.

The new Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), backed by a bipartisan mix of 75 senators and representatives, seeks to rein in out-of-control technology titans that use their power to manipulate the local news environment for their own gain. While local newspapers and broadcasters pay to develop local news that energizes communities, Big Tech often simply takes the information and republishes it, refusing to pay fairly for the work.

The JCPA, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and co-sponsored by South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, seeks to address this threat to local journalism by Big Tech. It’s kind of complicated, but the bill calls for a temporary, limited antitrust safe harbor for small, local news publishers to negotiate collectively with the tech titans for fair compensation for use of their content. The measure, supported by a blend of 64 House members including Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, is narrowly tailored to ensure coordination by news publishers is only in the interest of protecting trustworthy, quality journalism. Moreover, the bill is designed to incentivize and reward publishers who invest in local journalism and newsroom professionals.

This bill joins another proposal that would help local newspapers, 1,800 of which have gone dark since 2004. As we wrote in December, the proposed Local Journalism Sustainability Act would provide a series of tax credits to local newspapers to offset financial hardships worsened in the pandemic. The bill, supported by 93 members of Congress in both chambers, would help newspapers survive an array of forces that have sucked away the money they need to keep the doors open, such as greatly reduced advertising revenues, loss of circulation, the rising cost of newsprint and inflation.

Both of these congressional bills are temporary lifelines in a challenging media environment now dominated by Big Tech. The main reason for you to support these bills? Because without investments in local news by local media outlets, all you would be left with is clickbait. If local news outlets can’t produce local news, our democracy suffers and won’t function properly. No longer would there be trained watchdogs to protect the public interest. No longer would there be professionals who work day in and day out to make sure the government is accountable and not rife with corruption.

The land of the free and home of the brave is paved with good information about how our democracy works. But without local news publishers and broadcasters to provide that information, we fall deeper into the pit of untruth, partisanship and meaningless clickbait.

We encourage you to contact your members of Congress today and urge them to sign on to support the Local Journalism Sustainability Act and the relatively new Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.

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