Connect with us

Local News

Study shows local news reduces taxation and encourages responsible government spending



Emma Penrod | Utah News Dispatch

Utah is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a large media market. But the Beehive State has been blessed with a large and growing number of media outlets — and that benefits everyone who lives here, whether or not you read the daily news.

I’m biased of course, but let me break down the numbers for you. In 2018 an extensive study of news coverage and government spending found that every time a newspaper closed, local taxes increased by an average of $84.60 per person. If we take the latest inflation fiasco into account, we’re talking about a tax savings of approximately $102.80 per person for every news outlet operating in your community.

But it wasn’t just government spending that increased. The study, authored by researchers from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Chicago, determined that local governments were more likely run a deficit—to spend more than they bring in—in the absence of local news coverage. It also found that municipalities pay nearly $800,000 more in interest (in today’s dollars) for every bond they issue, for every local news outlet that closes.

That is to say that if your community needs to build a new school, it will cost you less if your community has a local newspaper. Or, conversely, that your community will get more school for its money if it has a local newspaper.

I don’t know about you, but I could do a lot with those kinds of savings. My community could do a lot with those kinds of savings. And none of this is contingent on whether I read the news or not—the mere presence of news reporters influences how elected officials spend and manage money.

Of course, I’m sure you have read the news and you’re familiar with the rather bleak trend of layoffs, newspaper closures, and the growing prevalence of news deserts. But the good news is that supporting local journalists is easier than ever. Here’s a few simple ideas to give local reporters a boost:

  • Read the whole news article instead of just the headline. It takes less than three minutes to read most news articles.
  • Subscribe to a local news outlet’s email newsletter or podcast. It’s often free, and it’s a great alternative to doomscrolling social media.
  • Share an article from your local news outlet with your own social media channels. No cost to you and a great way to spread the word about issues that matter to your community.
  • Buy a subscription or make a donation to nonprofit news media. Yes this one does come with a cost, but in most cases it will cost you less than the $100 it could save you in taxes.
  • If you own a business, consider placing an ad with a local news outlet. Reduce your tax bill and reach new customers at the same time!

And if you haven’t recently, consider browsing a news outlet you haven’t read or listened to before. Even if legacy media isn’t your thing, Utah boasts a growing variety of new, nonprofit and specialty news outlets. Whether you like hard-hitting business news or uplifting feature stories, there’s something out there for everyone.

Continue Reading