News

Though the collapse of community journalism is real enough, we believe that its causes are only partly understood. Researchers generally focus on the changes wrought by technology over the past quarter-century — changes that tell an important story, but not the whole story.
As the concern grows, people are taking action — from partnerships to newsroom unions to legislative proposals. Virginia lieutenant governor candidate Sam Rasoul — currently the delegate for the state’s 11th District — has plans to protect and bolster local media around the state.
At a time when newsrooms nationwide are laying off reporters and some are closing down, a program begun by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been helping to sustain small, independent media outlets in every corner of the city. In May 2019 he signed an executive order requiring city agencies to direct at least half their budgets for digital and print advertising to community newspapers and websites. These media outlets are often their communities’ most trusted sources of information. They publish in more than 30 languages throughout the five boroughs, serving immigrants, ethnic and religious groups and communities of color.
In Wednesday's edition of the New York Daily News, reporter Larry McShane practically begs someone local to "step up and save New York's Hometown Paper." McShane and many of his colleagues fear that Tribune's current path, a takeover by Alden Global Capital, will cause further harm to the paper. McShane's column calls Alden a "notorious hedge fund known for decimating newspapers like the Denver Post before picking the bones for profit."
The stakes for staff and readers of Tribune papers could not be higher. Alden has stripped dozens of its other newspapers of employees and assets to boost profits. Bainum has said he would sell many of the individual papers to local owners and keep the Sun and other Maryland papers. “Alden’s track record has been clear,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and a former editor of the Chicago Tribune. “Nothing about their interest — either at Tribune or at other properties — suggests that they are motivated by a desire to enhance quality journalism in any of these communities. If there are additional financial pressures, it can only exacerbate a grim situation.”
Please, anyone rich enough to buy my newspaper, this is a chance to save something important. This is a chance to be a hero.
Our goal is not to report on the state of local journalism, but to show what the American public misses when thousands of stories are not told.
Local news serves our critical information needs, particularly regarding vital issues such as vaccines, elections and public safety. The newspaper industry, still our primary source of original reporting, has lost well over 50 percent of its workforce since the early 2000s, leading to hundreds of closures and news deserts across the country. No longer commercially viable, local journalism’s devastation will only worsen in the coming months and years. Yet infrastructures must be maintained regardless of their profitability and such glaring market failure should necessitate government intervention. Public goods, after all, require public investments. Unfortunately, we often take such democratic infrastructure for granted, leading to neglect and disinvestment over time.