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Editorial: Shop local, eat local — and read local

Published: 6/18/2021 10:09:56 PM
Modified: 6/18/2021 10:10:06 PM

From Lebanon announcing the end of its mask mandate to Hartford holding an in-person Juneteenth celebration, the Upper Valley — and much of the rest of the country — is beginning to emerge from its COVID-19 cocoon. The sense of relief is palpable, as is the hope that things will soon return to normal.

From the front page to the local news pages to the sports and business pages, the Valley News has been documenting the region’s reopening — in-person graduations, sporting events with fans, new restaurants appearing and the arts scene reemerging, to name just a few examples — and sharing with our readers how we are all beginning to reclaim the parts of life we’ve missed the past year.

However, tempering that optimism is the reality that the pandemic hurt our communities badly. Many businesses struggled and, if they were able to stay in business, are still trying to recover. These locally owned restaurants, shops and service providers are vital to our economy and provide valuable jobs and important resources. Now more than ever, it’s critical that people “shop local” and “eat local” whenever they can.

And you can add your local newspaper to the businesses that need your support.

During the pandemic, local newspapers provided the critical information needed to protect the health and safety of their readers. The Valley News, for example, offered extensive reporting on the impact of the pandemic on the Upper Valley and made its coronavirus coverage free to readers on its website.

But the importance of local newspapers reaches well beyond the pandemic. Local newspapers cover the issues most important to their communities. Without vibrant local newspapers, cities and towns suffer — as far too many communities in the nation’s growing “news deserts” are learning.

Newspapers, including the Valley News, were hit hard during the pandemic, just like other businesses — many of which regularly advertised in our pages. As we have reported to readers from time to time, our advertising revenue dropped significantly as the pandemic began to strangle the economy, something newspapers across the country experienced, as well. While more readers than ever turned to newspaper websites for information (the Valley News website, for example, averages more than 1 million page views a month), that didn’t generate enough additional revenue to bridge the gap — the now-familiar “digital dimes for print dollars” problem.

The Valley News is fortunate to have devoted readers who value the local news and information we provide, and last year more than 1,500 of them responded to our appeal to help sustain our local journalism operation through the pandemic. We are humbled by, and extremely grateful for, your support. Now, if it’s not too presumptuous to ask, there is something else you can do to help.

On Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., introduced the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, a bipartisan bill that seeks to help local newspapers sustain financial viability through a series of three, five-year tax credits. The Valley News Editorial Board supports this legislation, and we urge readers to contact their congressional representatives and ask them to co-sponsor and vote for it.

The Local Journalism Sustainability Act (H.R. 3940) would benefit not only local newspapers and other local media, it would also benefit readers and advertisers who support their newspapers. Subscribers would get a tax credit for a portion of their subscription cost, businesses would get a tax credit to cover a portion of the cost of advertising in local newspapers, and newspapers would receive tax credits to help them hire more local journalists. We believe this bill would help ensure that local newspapers can continue to serve readers and advertisers, as the Valley News has for almost 70 years.

So, while you “shop local” and “eat local,” we encourage you to continue to “read local,” too, by subscribing to your local newspaper. It’s one of the best things you can do to help strengthen your community.

Contacting House members:

Rep. Peter Welch

2187 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20515

Vermont Phone: 802-652-2450

Washington Phone: 202-225-4115

Website: www.welch.house.gov

Rep. Annie McLane Kuster

320 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, D.C., 20515

N.H. Phone: 603-226-1002

Washington Phone: 202-225-5206

Website: www.kuster.house.gov




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