Coalition formed to advocate for local journalism


A statewide group of local news organizations — comprising of more than 100 newspapers across New York — has launched The Empire State Local News Coalition, a joint advocacy effort to advance a legislative package intended to deliver long-term sustainability to the sector.

The coalition launches at a watershed moment for the journalism industry as well as democracy. More than 3,000 newspapers have shuttered across the country since 2005, resulting in thousands of layoffs and countless communities losing essential platforms for sharing their stories.

In New York state alone, newspapers have declined 40 percent between 2004 and 2019. Since then, the number of journalists has halved, and there has been a 60 percent decrease in overall circulation.

There is a growing number of communities with little to no access to local newspaper coverage. More than a dozen New York counties are down to just one newspaper, and Orleans County in Western New York is the first with no local newspaper at all.

The decline of local journalism is a threat to the health of our democracy, as research from the Democracy Fund shows there is a direct correlation between the breadth of local media coverage and levels of civic engagement — an especially significant factor in an election year.

If newspapers continue to shutter, communities across the state risk being effectively disenfranchised, losing the ability to shape policy conversations, and hold local officials accountable.

“The Empire State Local News Coalition is dedicated to advancing a legislative package with bipartisan support aimed at providing a lifeline to newspapers across the state,” said founding member Zachary Richner — director of Richner Communications, the parent company of Herald Community Newspapers — in a release. “All New Yorkers deserve to have their voices heard, and hometown newspapers are key to that mission.

“We urge government officials and local stakeholders to rally behind us, safeguarding democracy, and bolstering the future of local journalism in New York.”

The Empire State coalition is championing what it describes as a robust legislative package intended to ensure local papers survive through the 21st century and beyond. Key priorities include:

• The Local Journalism Sustainability Act (S.625B, A.2958C) — Sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, the bill would provide tax credits to local news outlets for the employment of local journalists, while providing job stability and paving the way for more hiring opportunities, and an expanded workforce in the future.

• Incentivizing small businesses to advertise in local media — This win-win proposal, according to organizers, would encourage local businesses to advertise in local media, driving revenue for hometown papers, while connecting businesses with their customers.

“Democracy places a responsibility on citizens to be informed so they can effectively participate in the electoral process, and in local government,” said Bill Shumway, editor and publisher of North Country This Week in Potsdam, in a release. “A trusted local news source is essential for that to happen. Healthy communities need an unbiased news organization to connect, enrich and inform citizens.”

“The bottom line is that this proposed legislation would be a major game changer,” said Mark Vinciguerra, president of Capital Region Independent Media out of Clifton Park. “We would be able to increase the number and type of journalists we have on staff. It would allow us to cover more beats, do more video reporting, investigative reporting, and expand our ‘Good News’ initiative we have started.”

A 2022 analysis found more than 350 newsrooms across the state would benefit from the local journalism payroll tax credit. This includes 53 newsrooms in New York City, with 21 of them being ethnic media outlets.

To learn more about the efforts, visit