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Local journalism bill package hopes to offer Wisconsinites fair and equal access to quality reporting

Lawmakers in Madison are looking at three bills that address different aspects of the industry
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Posted at 9:23 AM, Feb 05, 2024

MILWAUKEE — A group of new bills in Madison hopes to improve access to local journalism in Wisconsin.

“Local journalism doesn't always get the support that it needs. But, we need to inform our readers on what's going on in the city and that costs money,” said Nyesha Stone, Founder & Public Relations Director, Carvd N Stone.

Known as the Local Journalism Package, lawmakers in Madison are looking at three bills that touch on different aspects of the industry, with the goal of ensuring Wisconsinites have fair and equal access to quality reporting statewide.

“I don't think people understand that it costs to make content. So, to have initiatives and tax credits that are supporting local journalism, that's what's going to keep the industry going,” said Stone.

The first is the Journalism Fellowship Program, where 25 students will be chosen and matched to participating newsrooms.

The goal is to establish mentorship connections and community relationships for new and aspiring journalists.

The second is a Newspaper Tax Credit, where subscribers can get 50 percent of their money back, up to $250 per year, which lawmakers say will directly increase accessibility to local reporting.

The third is called the Civic Information Consortium.

In a partnership with Universities of Wisconsin, it will distribute grants to local news and media projects.

“A lot of people are uninformed now, because no one is producing the news or they're not getting the support that they need. So, we need more people to see the value of the industry,” said Stone.

Nyesha Stone is the head of Carvd N Stone, a local organization that focuses on good news in the Milwaukee community.

She says that initiatives like these not only help businesses like hers, but encourage the future of journalism.

“We need people who are here every day that live in a city that can really effectively and successfully tell the full story of Milwaukee, and in order to do that, we need to tell the journalists that we support them,” said Stone.