Have we seen the end of local news?
The Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released a comprehensive study recently looking at the health of local journalism. There is no doubt that newsrooms have been shifting, downsizing and modifying operations over the past several years. Factor in furloughs and the impact of COVID-19 and these changes are even more pronounced.
The Institute for Public Relations has summarized the report as follows:
- The U.S. has lost 25% of its newspapers since 2004.
- About 95% of lost newspapers have been weeklies or non-dailies, and about 5% have been dailies.
- Total circulation decreased by 55 million between 2004 and 2019.
- Newspapers lost 36,000 journalists during that period.
- Despite a decline in surviving newspapers, newspaper chains are larger than ever.
- Newspaper chains have grown recently due to the union of large publicly traded newspaper companies with hedge funds and private equity chains.
- A variety of start-up news outlets are attempting to fill the local news void, including digital sites, ethnic media, public broadcasting, and independently owned and operated newspapers.
When access to credible, up-to-date and local news is so important, these numbers are certainly troublesome. I don’t have all the answers, but know that as communications professionals, we need these local news outlets to do our jobs.
Subscribe, watch and listen to your local news. They need all our support.