Local News Has Been Dying For Years … And It’s Getting Worse

The trend is bad for journalists and the communities they (used to) serve. Local News Has Been Dying For Years … And It’s Getting Worse Giphy

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If you’re like most Americans, you no longer have a local newspaper delivered to your home each morning. And if you live in a relatively small town, you might not even have a local newspaper at all.

Even some of the biggest daily newspapers, such as the Washington Post, have been forced to make severe staffing cuts amid plummeting ad revenue and the proliferation of online news outlets.

Where things stand

Although there has been a fairly significant amount of support from philanthropists and other sources, it hasn’t been enough to stem the tide of closing and struggling newspapers. To get a full picture of the current situation, let’s take a look at some startling statistics:

  • One-third of all newspapers have gone out of business since 2005.
  • During the same period, two-thirds of newspaper reporters have lost their jobs.
  • More than 200 U.S. counties currently have no local news outlet.

And the trend appears to only be getting worse. So far this year, roughly 2.5 newspapers have closed each week, due largely to unsustainable expenses now that ad sales have hit rock-bottom.

Most of those shuttered newspapers are weekly outlets and, in many cases, their closures mean that there’s no remaining local news source for the communities they served.

Is digital the answer?

As you probably guessed, many print newspapers are either transitioning to, or being replaced by, digital alternatives. And while these outlets are faring better than their traditional counterparts, it’s certainly not all good news.

In fact, for every new digital newspaper that opens, another one closes, on average.

The silver lining? There are some examples of newspapers that have found success by making their case directly to communities, reiterating why they’re still so important.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee November 17th, 2023
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