10/30/2022 GOTCHA MEDIA Story by MichaelMH
The mass extinction of newspapers is a huge concern for those who value local news. The newspaper industry has been on an accelerated decline over recent years, with thousands left jobless and millions without any means to obtain vital information about what's going on in their communities or expose wrongdoing when it occurs, even if they only read the editorial page!
As these publications fade away at alarming rates – hundreds have reduced coverage; pulled back circulation fired reporters etc., making them increasingly susceptible targets by powerful politicians shutting down advertisers until demands are met "no more ads until you print what we say."
Related: The Man Who Would Save Newspapers from Extinction
The cause of the mass extinction of local newspapers lies in the traditional business model, that once supported them – relying on print subscribers and advertising to generate revenue – has become increasingly difficult to sustain as the audience for local news continues to shrink and advertising dollars disappear, including the increased use of cell phones for obtaining news.
Local newspapers have always played a vital role in our democracy. They are the watchdog that holds our elected officials accountable and exposes wrongdoing. They also play a significant role in promoting civic engagement by providing a forum for discussion and debate on the issues that matter most to our communities.
Related: Local journalism in crisis: Why America must revive its local newsrooms
Yet despite their importance, local newspapers are in decline. This decline has been especially acute over the past five years. Since 2014, we have lost 156 local newspapers. That is the loss of one newspaper every week. And these numbers do not even include the hundreds of weekly and semi-weekly newspapers that have also closed their doors during this period.
This mass extinction event of local newspapers is having a devastating impact on our communities. Millions of Americans now live in "news deserts" – areas where there is no local news coverage at all. These news deserts span rural, urban, and suburban areas alike. And they are only getting bigger; since 2014, the number of counties with only one local newspaper has increased by 50%. If we want to save our local newspapers, we need to find new ways to support them financially. Otherwise, we risk losing an essential part of our democracy.