It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit our state and our communities hard. As your local newspaper, we are working to provide coverage of this pandemic along with the rest of our local news-gathering efforts.

But like many businesses big and small in the Twin Tiers, the Olean Times Herald is not immune to the financial fallout resulting from the pandemic.

Congress has responded to these tough times by offering multiple emergency relief measures that include stimulus checks being sent directly to individuals, payroll protections for small businesses and expanded unemployment benefits.

Now it has the opportunity to pass a relief measure that directly helps local newspapers.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would help protect your access to local news while also helping grow local businesses through ads placed in the local media and rewarding those who subscribe to the Times Herald and other local newspapers like it.

The act, introduced July 16, is a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat from Arizona, and Dan Newhouse, a Republican from Washington state. That bipartisan support is telling of the importance local newspapers have across the country.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would help local newspapers as well as those who read them and advertise in them in the following ways:

• It would provide a credit for advertising in local newspapers and local media.

Businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees would be eligible for a five-year non-refundable tax credit to spend on advertising in local newspapers or local radio or television stations.

The credit, up to $5,000 in the first year and $2,500 in each of the next four years, would cover 80% of advertising costs in the first year and 50% annually thereafter. This provision helps local businesses as well as local media companies.

• It would provide a credit for local newspaper subscriptions.

The act provides for a non-refundable tax credit of up to $250 per year to help cover the costs of subscriptions to local newspapers, in print or digital form, that primarily produce content related to news and current events.

The credit would cover 80% of subscription costs in the first year, and 50% thereafter and would help consumers while incentivizing support of local news organizations.

• It would give a payroll credit for journalists.

This five-year refundable tax credit could be used by local newspapers on compensation of its journalists up to $50,000 a year.

The credit would cover 50% of compensation, up to $50,000, in the first year and 30% of compensation, up to $50,000, in each of the subsequent four years. This provision would go a long way toward ensuring that communities keep their local news coverage.

Local journalism is our calling, but it’s also an important element of our community. We are your hometown newspaper and proud to serve the win Tiers region, which is why we are asking for your support in reaching out to your local congressman in support of this bill.

Its passage would be an important step in helping small businesses in our community, including the Times Herald, survive this crisis so that they can thrive in its aftermath.

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