Sen. Kelly Introduces Legislation To Prop Up Failing News Outlets

Sen. Mark Kelly (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)

Last week, Senator Mark Kelly introduced legislation designed to keep failing news outlets alive.  Kelly’s Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021, would essentially subsidize local news organizations through a series of tax credits.

The tax credits would be available to newspapers, digital publications, television stations and radio stations.

Kelly claimed in a press release that “local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations are pillars” of Arizona communities, “bringing Arizonans trusted local news, information about community events and the latest on public health updates in their area.”

Contrary to his claims, the public has turned away from legacy media outlets due in part to the lack of trust the public has in them. That lack of trust could be exacerbated by the fact that through the proposed taxing scheme, government would be funding the very industry that is supposed to be policing it.

One railbird told the Arizona Daily Independent that he found it ironic that “we are told by the mainstream media that OANN cannot cover the Arizona Senate’s audit of the Maricopa County 2020 General Election, while they raise money to fund the audit. Yet those are likely the same reporters whose publications would welcome this cash.”

According to Kelly, since 2004, over 1,800 communities have lost their local newspapers.

Axios reported in January 2021:

For the first time ever, fewer than half of all Americans have trust in traditional media, according to data from Edelman’s annual trust barometer shared exclusively with Axios. Trust in social media has hit an all-time low of 27%.

  • 56% of Americans agree with the statement that “Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”
  • 58% think that “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.”
  • When Edelman re-polled Americans after the election, the figures had deteriorated even further, with 57% of Democrats trusting the media and only 18% of Republicans.

Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced a similar House version of the bill (H.R.3940) in June 2021.

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