When Local Newsrooms Shrink, Fewer Candidates Run for Mayor

The connection is no coincidence, says Rubado. “If there’s nobody reporting on or providing information about candidates, about legislation, about how money is being spent, or the budgeting process, how will people know that they require a quality challenger to unseat an ineffective mayor?” she said. “They don’t know the mayor is ineffective!”

The crisis in local journalism isn’t just about disappearing publications and the spread of “news deserts” across the landscape. It’s also about the dramatic decline in newsroom jobs at the papers that are surviving, forcing fewer journalists to do the work of many. From 2008 to 2017, total newspaper newsroom staffing almost halved, according to a Pew analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, dropping from 71,000 employees to 39,000. In the early 2000s, the average staff size of newsrooms peaked at around 50, according to data provided to the researchers by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). By 2013, that average was down to below 25.

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