Changing the media landscape in New York and beyond
Many community publishers in New York City struggled to operate when COVID-19 shut the city down, and most of their local business advertising revenue vanished. For the past five years, New York City has spent almost $50 million on print, digital and broadcast (radio and television) advertising in ethnic and community media as part of its marketing campaigns.7 The boost meant community media kept some of the city’s vulnerable audiences connected with vital information and needed resources.
Ten years after CCM’s groundbreaking report on New York City agencies’ advertising spending with community media, we ask the same questions about New York State: Do the state’s community media outlets receive a fair share of state advertising? Is the state’s ad messaging reaching all New Yorkers?
CCM followed up the impact of their 2013 report and the Advertising Boost Initiative by joining community media publishers across the state in a February 2022 open call encouraging Governor Kathy Hochul and other New York State policymakers to “commit to equity in advertising from New York State’s government agencies.” Giving a fair share of advertising from New York State’s government agencies to the community media sector will help ensure information about state programs reaches all New Yorkers.
Recently proposed state and federal legislation supports community media. The “Local, community and ethnic media commitment act” (S6495) in April 2023, sponsored by New York State Senator Jessica Ramos, calls for allocating 50% of state agencies’ advertising spending on community media outlets.
The New York Local News Act (S9254), also known as the “Community Media Reinvestment Act,” was introduced in the State Senate and Assembly in 2021 and “establishes a tax on direct broadcast satellite services and video streaming services and establishes the community media reinvestment fund.” The Local Journalism Sustainability Act, introduced in the NYS Senate and Assembly in November 2021, would offer tax credits to journalists’ employers and subscribers to local news outlets; it was reintroduced in January 2023 and is in committee.
Federal lawmakers are considering community news outlets too. The U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Local Journalism Sustainability Act of 2021 to offer tax credits for employers and subscribers to local newspapers. This bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee.
Inspired by NYC’s law, former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an executive order in October 2022 requiring Chicago to direct at least 50% of their advertising budget to local media. CCM’s Advertising Boost Initiative is partnering with Rebuild Local News to expand this work to other states and cities to support vital community media outlets and the communities they inform and enrich.8
New York State legislation:
- Local, community and ethnic media commitment act: Allocating ad spending
- New York Local News Act (Community Media Reinvestment Act): Establishes tax on select services; community media reinvestment fund
- Local Journalism Sustainability Act: Tax credits for journalists’ employers and subscribers
- Local Journalism Sustainability Act: Tax credits for employers and subscribers
CCM’s goal is to bring to light state advertising spending data in order to raise awareness about how New York State agencies distribute advertising spending in the form of media placements. Then we will make the case for reforms that ensure that the process is more transparent and equitable and holds state agencies accountable.
A fair allocation of state advertising spending will help to sustain community media as a trusted source of information contributing to the civic engagement of a diverse, informed, prosperous, and healthy citizenry while also “expanding access to state programs and services, regardless of native language, race, color, gender, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability or immigrant status.”9
Guaranteeing the fair allocation of state agency advertising dollars to community media would benefit the state’s community media, New York State, and its residents.