Does the Ashe Post & Timers fit the bill in terms of new legislation promoting local journalism? We think so, and we bet you’ll agree.

Like many businesses that were facing financial challenges prior to the pandemic, the past year has been a difficult one for local newspapers. From this situation has arisen The Local Journalism Sustainability Act — a bipartisan bill before the 117th Congress providing a pathway to financial viability for local newspapers through a series of tax credits.

To achieve those tax credits — subscription credits for subscribers, compensation credits to hire local news journalists, and local business media advertising credits among them — the definitions of “local newspaper” and “local news journalist” in the bill are specific.

A local newspaper is one in which the “primary content of such publication is original content derived from primary sources and relating to news and current events … (it) serves the needs of a regional or local community … (and) employs as least one news journalist who resides in such regional or local community.”

A local news journalist is “an individual employed by a local newspaper who regularly gathers, collects, photographs, records, writes or reports news or information that concerns local events or other matters of local public interest.”

At the AP&T, we tag those bases on every level. The work we do is accomplished by local journalists informing our local communities. To see this for yourself, you need look no further than the pages of the newspaper you are reading right now. Our stories are written by journalists who work, shop, worship and live in the communities they serve. Because of this, the stories they report are important — to you, to them, to all of us who live in the High Country.

We’re not perfect, but we daily strive toward the goal of informing readers of the vital news they need to live their lives. Sometimes we fall short, and when that happens, we expect to be held accountable — because a local newspaper belongs to its community.

Or, in the words of a veteran journalist, Lee Wolverton, vice president of news and executive editor of HD Media:

“Give us hell when we deserve it. Hold us accountable, and demand that we hold people in public office accountable. It’s still our job, and we believe in it. Insist and expect that we vigilantly fill the role of public watchdogs in our communities, that we accurately present a sense of the place we all call home. But also support us and newspapers and journalists across the state and across America.

“Just as we need people to clean and police our streets, we need journalists to diligently cover our cities and state, to show us the rights and wrongs not of Washington, but of our hometowns. ... Who will do it if journalists do not? And if they do not, what becomes of this place? It isn’t just the future of this newspaper and others that’s at stake. It’s the future of our towns, our state and our country.”

This is why the Local Journalism Sustainability Act matters. This is why we champion it. And this is why we ask you also to lend your support.

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