Celebrating N.Y.’s investment in local journalism


Last month marked a pivotal moment for New York state — a moment that extended far beyond the numbers and legislative details of a state budget.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state legislature delivered a beacon of hope for our communities by including in the state budget a groundbreaking initiative to support local news organizations in the form of a tax credit, modeled on the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.

At the heart of this legislation lies a profound acknowledgment: Local journalism is not just about reporting news; it’s about safeguarding the health of both our democracy and our communities.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, the bill’s sponsor in the upper chamber, aptly captured the essence of this endeavor, emphasizing that “a thriving local news industry is vital to the health of our democracy.” With bipartisan cooperation and a shared commitment to our communities, the initiative underscores the fundamental role that local journalists play in keeping our democracy vibrant and informed.

What does this legislation mean for our neighborhoods and towns? It means that we, as a society, are recognizing the value of — and investing in — the storytellers who bring our communities together: the journalists who uncover local stories, amplify diverse voices, and hold leaders accountable.

The Empire State Local News Coalition, founded earlier this year, spearheaded this legislative achievement by organizing more than 200 local newspapers across the state. The coalition’s tireless efforts moved the Local Journalism Sustainability Act to the forefront of legislative priorities.

“It is really an astounding legislative accomplishment,” Hoylman-Sigal told members of the New York Press Association last weekend in a Zoom appearance. “After stalling for years, our Local Journalism Sustainability Act really didn’t catapult into a top legislative priority” until “the founding of the Empire State Local News Coalition. That coalition … mobilized hundreds of newspapers and a broad range of stakeholders from around the country.”

Zach Richner, founder of the Empire State Local News Coalition — and a director of Richner Communications, the parent company of Herald Community Newspapers — expressed profound gratitude to the legislators who championed this cause. In addition to Hoylman-Sigal’s unwavering leadership, Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly sponsor Carrie Woerner all played pivotal roles in turning this vision into reality.

New York’s leadership on this issue sets a powerful example for the nation. Other states — blue, red or purple — now have a template to follow, as does the federal government, where the Community News and Small Business Support Act has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While there is still work to be done in crafting the final regulations governing this tax credit, let’s celebrate this milestone. And let’s continue to champion the indispensable role of local journalism in shaping the future of our communities — and our nation.