January 24, 2022

Local News Outlets May Reap $1.7 Billion in Build Back Better Aid

Other major chains with Wall Street ties could also benefit from the tax credit. Tribune Publishing and MediaNews Group, both owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, appear to be eligible, as does McClatchy, which is owned by the hedge fund Chatham Asset Management.

Maribel Perez Wadsworth, the president of news at Gannett, defended the inclusion of her company, which publishes roughly 250 local newspapers, including The Arizona Republic, The Detroit Free Press and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (as well as USA Today). “Scale allows us to solve for some things,” she said, “but at the end of the day they’re local newsrooms with local reporters and photographers and editors, up against the same headwinds.”

McClatchy declined to comment. A representative for Alden did not respond to a request for comment.

There are now 200 U.S. counties without a newspaper, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina, and more than 2,100 papers have shut down since 2004. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of journalists at newspapers fell to 31,000 last year from 71,000 in 2008.

Supporters of the tax credit note the role that local news outlets play in bringing communities together. Without them, who will chronicle town meetings, hold local official accountable and note births, deaths and weddings?

“The business models of local news have collapsed in many communities, so it has now gone from being just some private companies’ woes to being a crisis for democracy,” said Steven Waldman, the president of Report for America, a service program that places journalists in understaffed newsrooms. Mr. Waldman consulted on the federal provision.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/28/business/media/build-back-better-local-news.html

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