Statewide Local News Bills

Years of declining revenues and expanding news deserts — made more acute by the COVID-19 pandemic — has sparked new interest in several states about how their state government could support local news organizations.

From CISLM Research Director Jessica Mahone’s findings, the latest of which was published June 2024, what’s become clear is that there’s not only an appetite for local news support at a state level — the types of governmental support vary, with different mechanisms gaining traction.

Three things to know

  • First, directing government funds to local news is the most commonly proposed method of support proposed in state legislation.
  • Second, despite the increased introduction of local news legislation and passage of funding for fellowship programs, partisanship might play a role in which states are willing to enact legislation to support local news and which are not.
  • Finally, there is increasing interest among state legislatures in supporting local news media.

Taken together, the variety of approaches — and how they play out over the coming years — will act as a series of public policy experiments and provide a base for study and evaluation of how best to support local news. 

An update to our state bill tracker includes bills introduced prior to the 2021-2022 legislative sessions as well in current sessions to provide a historical view of such legislation, building on our previous tracker of legislation introduced in 2022

Read Mahone’s full findings and analysis here.

Bills grouped by status

As of July 2023, legislatures in four states have passed appropriations to provide funding for local news.

Bills grouped by mechanism

Directing government funds to local news is the most commonly proposed method of support proposed in state legislation. Fellowship programs appear particularly popular, particularly within the past year. In total, approximately $27.5 million have been appropriated by state legislatures to support fellowship programs for local journalists. The success of these programs, either in legislative support or in improving the fate of local news, could lead to similar proposals in other states.

Bills grouped by state

Are we missing any state legislation? Let us know.

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Note: The mission of the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media is to support local news organizations and the industry in the difficult work of transformation through research, education and outreach, as well as to sound the alarm about the decline of local news. It’s within our mission to track, study and provide information about bills related to local media, as well as help people participate in government.