Believe it or not, but this newspaper may be saving you tax money. Andrew Johnson, Immediate past president of the National Newspaper Association, has written about a study that was done by researchers from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois, which revealed that communities which had lost their community newspapers for more than three years, saw taxes increase $340 per year for a household of four people.
The study looked at increased costs to municipalities for borrowing bonds after a newspaper closure. The study looked at actual data from municipalities from across the United States over a period of several years where newspapers were closed.
You may look at the $340 figure with skepticism and I don’t blame you. But when confronted with the reason for why taxes would increase you can better understand it.
Johnson reported that the main finding is that newspaper closures have a significantly adverse impact on municipal borrowing costs. The study further found that the number of government employees increased approximately four per 1,000 residents and tax revenue increased by $85 per capita, plus the deficit per capita increased by $53.
You may ask, what does a community newspaper have to do with this? As Johnson put it, “One of the main things a newspaper does is that it represents the public in keeping a local open government. It does this by receiving information about activities/actions occurring at local government meetings, gathering information from open government records and publishing government notices.”
On the other hand without newspaper coverage, “increased government inefficiencies result from the loss of a government watchdog, and increased informational frictions result from lack of press coverage, thus lenders charge more.”
Whereas television news coverage in rural communities is usually limited to only the very top or sensational news stories and radio is basically there for entertainment purposes, it is left to newspapers to provide the news coverage. Social media by citizens can be good or bad, but is not the same as a professional journalist who gets first-hand information.
Studies show that newspapers are the most trusted source of local news, more than all other media combined. “No other business has the rights of the citizens tied to it as community newspapers do. The “press” is the only private business mentioned in the constitution, so our founding fathers must have thought it was important,” Johnson wrote.
Like many in the media that depend on advertising, we have suffered from the loss of it due to COVID-19, plus negative effects of recent newspaper tariffs, and the announcement of large postage increases over the next five years. However, we feel confident that we will weather the storm because you continue to read our product and advertise in it.
Just think, for less than $50 a year we could be saving you a $340 tax increase. That makes subscribing to this newspaper an incredible value!