One Big Thing: How the Slow Death of Local News Weakens our Democracy
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What is it?
- Local news outlets are disappearing and with them, our best sources for the important stories happening in our own backyard. Local reporting is the bedrock of our society and the diminished presence of local news outlets will undermine the mechanisms of local accountability, thus fundamentally weakening our democracy from the bottom to the top.
- Many local papers are unable to compete with the national or international news networks like Fox News, CNN or ABC News. Last year Pew Research reported that more than 70 percent of Americans think their local news media are doing well financially, yet only 14 percent have directly paid for or donated to a local news source.
Why is it important?
- PEN American reported that Americans trust their local news networks almost 25 percent more than national news networks. This is because of the unique relationships that local journalists have with their constituents.
- Even as local journalism disappears, the means of all journalism has fundamentally changed. Social media algorithms that control users’ newsfeeds have distorted the normal means by which news outlets disseminate information. Whether it is the New York Times or Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, news outlets are forced to tailor everything from articles’ titles and associated photos to their conclusions to fit the social media companies’ systems.
- Yet, not all is lost. The Knight Foundation sees new opportunities and growth for local news, using new models for reporting and revenue.
What can you do?
- Find out what local news outlets are near you and ways to subscribe at mylocalpaper.com and see local news from all over the country at hometownnews.com
- Learn more about this issue from PEN America and see how the disappearance of local news hurts civic engagement
- Listen to the experts at this year’s Knight Foundation’s Media Forum focus on local news and democracy.
- Where do you get your local news? Tell us HERE
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