Editor’s note: An intriguing solution to journalism’s existential crisis 

The Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, often brings in national news-industry leaders to discuss their work with students and faculty. In recent months, the department has also invited local journalists outside of the campus community to hear from these speakers. 

In April, the guest was Steven Waldman, a longtime New York political journalist and the founder/president of a group called Rebuild Local News, which is working to advance public policies that might help re-stabilize the industry. 

“Government is not the only solution to the crisis in local news—but smart public policy is essential,” reads RLN’s website. 

We’re talking about government intervention, but not in the form of grants or other direct handouts. While those are also being discussed in the greater news community, they tend to make journalists cringe. It’s hard to imagine state money with no strings attached, and it’s easy to imagine strings-attached money leading to state-controlled media. (See this month’s cover story for why that is a terrible idea.) 

Rebuild Local News is instead pushing for various tax credits. The idea that most intrigues me is a tax credit for small businesses that advertise with local news outlets. The federal government would reimburse these businesses for a significant percentage of their ad costs. News organizations would see more advertising revenue; business owners would get a boost; and those business owners, not the government, would make the decisions about where the money goes.  

The proposed legislation, which also includes a payroll-tax credit for the employment of journalists, has been drafted. It’s called the Community News and Small Business Support Act. It’s been endorsed by the National Restaurant Association, many journalism associations and other news industry groups.  

In Nevada, it’s upon the journalism community to band together to advocate for measures like these—and it’s up to you, dear readers, to encourage our elected officials to support these measures as well. 

I’ll keep you updated as things unfold. Meanwhile, you can learn more at www.rebuildlocalnews.org.