Saturday, October 07, 2017

NNA chief says weeklies aren't mainstream media; forerunner says tax bill could limit ad deductibility

The new president of the main trade group for weekly newspapers tried to separate them from "the mainstream media" as she took office at the National Newspaper Association convention Saturday morning in Tulsa.

"Community newspapers are not the mainstream media. They're Main Street media," Susan Rowell, publisher of The Lancaster News in South Carolina, told members of the organization, which also includes some small daily newspapers.

Rowell's remarks came after she noted that a Charlotte TV reporter had tweeted prematurely that a shooting victim had died, but were also responsive to the "fake news" claims made by President Trump and his allies in partisan and social media. "We report real news every day," she said.

The outgoing president, Matt Paxton of The News-Gazette in Lexington, Va., said NNA is in good financial shape, with a stable membership, but has been stymied in its main legislative priority, passage of a bill to reform the U.S. Postal Service, on which NNA members rely for delivery and fear will increase rates without reform. Without naming Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, who is refusing to let the bill on the floor until tax reform passes, Paxton called on members "to put pressure on to move this bill."

Paxton said newspapers are threatened by a provision in the tax-reform bill that would limit the ability of businesses to deduct their advertising expenses from their taxable income. He said the idea is "frightening, and would be a severe blow to our already challenged industry. . . . We must not allow our elected representatives to rush through a bill merely in the interests of a political win, at the expense of careful consideration of the merits and demerits of this sweeping legislation that affects our entire economy."

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