A payroll tax credit offers a lifeline to newspapers that would enable them to continue to employ journalists to cover their communities by offsetting other increased expenses (paper and gasoline). The goal is to enable professional journalists to remain in the community and develop relationships and institutional memory that improve coverage, trust and depth of reporting. The tax credit would also be provided to local broadcasters (such as public radio stations, to local online news organizations and to not-for-profit news organizations).
Not only will the payroll tax credit preserve existing journalism jobs in New York State, it may attract jobs performing centralized functions for multi-state companies that are currently located in lower-cost states. Each newsroom job also supports staff working in the pressroom, handling mailed copies, overseeing home delivery, selling advertising and performing accounting work. Further, each job which is preserved or added has a multiplier impact on local employment. Every 100 jobs in newspapers and related media industries supports 573 additional jobs. (Updated employment multipliers for the U.S. economy | Economic Policy Institute (epi.org)
Would there be standards to ensure the benefit accrues to professional journalism?
To qualify, news publications:
- Must employ at least one full time employee covering local news
- Can be print or digital
- Cannot be owned, controlled or majority funded by 501c4
- Cannot be owned, controlled or majority funded by a PAC or any other entities described in Section 527 of the IRS code
- Must carry media liability insurance
- Must disclose ownership of the news organization (newspapers are covered by Sec. 330 of General Business Law)
- Must publish at least once in a calendar quarter
- Must have published at least once in the preceding four calendar quarters
Definition of local journalist
- ‘Local Journalist’ means a full-time employee whose primary job is to cover a community in New York State, a group of communities in New York State, or issues affecting New York State as a whole.
- Is only eligible for full-time employees.
- Someone who spends not less than an average of 30 hours a week providing qualifying services in a given calendar quarter and lives within 50 miles of the local community or group of communities where qualified services are provided.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 5,170 news analysts, reporters and journalists in New York State in 2021. These job titles also include those who work in broadcast news. The number of newsrooms statewide to benefit is 354. There are 53 in New York City. Of those 5,321 are publications that cover the BIPOC community.
We are asking the state to provide $100 million in tax credits a year for five years.