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Montcalm County newspaper responds to federal act that would fund local newsrooms

Elisabeth Waldon
The Daily News
The Daily News meet on Zoom.

15 attorneys general, including Michigan’s, has signed a letter supporting a federal act that would fund local journalism through tax credits.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would give businesses tax credits for advertising in the local newspaper. It would also award grant funding to newspapers to hire more staff.

The Regional Publisher for the Daily News in Greenville, Mich., Julie Stafford, said she supports the act. It could be a boon for local newsrooms around the nation, she said.

“Any time you’re talking about money in journalism, this is not a business that you go into to get rich quick," she said. "Anything that can help the bottom line of the newspaper can only improve their service to the community.”

The federal grant money and tax credits could help expand newsrooms and fill gaps in reporting, Stafford said.

The gaps caused the newspaper to turn to unique ways of reporting. Recently, Stafford received a call from a resident about local varsity football players going to a school to read to children, she said.

Stafford said she didn't have an available reporter, so she told the caller to take a picture and send her information on what happened.

"For every story we write, literally, we leave three or four on the table that we just can’t get to," Stafford said. "I just don’t have the team to do that."

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act has been in the House Ways and Means committee since June.