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. Here, you can read about those bills and track their progress through the legislatures.

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.

Why do we need state-level efforts to support local journalism?

Congress is well-known to be a slow-moving machine. There’s certainly an argument for federal support for local news, but there’s also room for support on a state level. State legislatures are able to tailor support for their local news media environment which can differ across states: the environment in Colorado will look different from the one in New York. As such, the path to a robust state media environment also may differ, which allows for greater experimentation and breadth of solutions possible. But, across the board, in communities without robust and independent local news, there is a demonstrated loss of democracy: less civic engagement, lower voter turnout, fewer people running for office, and a less accountable society, on the whole.

In response, news supporters in each state are advocating for their states to find ways to help local news in a way that allows the organizations to maintain their independence and prosper.

To keep track of these efforts, CISLM’s Kayleigh Carpenter has compiled a database of state bills that would support local news.

Local news state legislation

An overview of legislation from each state in 2022 so far.

*Note: Some states use either the House or the Assembly to refer to the larger chamber of their state legislature.

*Note: Some bills were filed in both chambers of the state legislature, but have different numbers. These ones will have the same bill title.

The legislation was gathered through searching LegiScan, an online database that tracks legislation in national and state legislatures, using the key words: “local news,” “local media,” “journalism,” “local,” “news,” “media,” and “advertising.”

Legislation by type

The state local news bills separated into two categories: tax/business-related or research-related.

From the above legislation, CISLM created three categories that the bills fell under, and categorized them as such based upon the mechanism the bill was using to support local news.

Research and more in the news

While state-level bills have not garnered much national attention, local journalism outlets are covering the bills in their own states.

How can I get involved?

If you’d like to show your support for local news organizations, here are two steps you can take:

  • Support your local news organization by subscribing or donating
    • The New York Times has compiled a list of local news organizations — search through their database to find local news organizations near you. Your support is vital in sustaining the local news you use on a daily basis.
  • Contact your Senator or Congressperson
    • If state support for local news matters to you, you might consider letting your representatives know. Find and contact your representatives using Democracy.io (At CISLM, we’re not affiliated with Democracy.io. We’re just fans.). Letting them know that their constituents care about local news is a great way to convince them to support federal or state bills.

For more ways to get involved, visit the Rebuild Local News page.

Are we missing any state legislation? Let us know.

Email us here and let us know so we can update the tracker!