US is losing ‘two newspapers a week’

US is losing ‘two newspapers a week’

The US is losing two newspapers per week, according to a new report from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Between late 2019 and May 2022, more than 360 newspapers have closed, according to the study.

Since 2005, the US has lost more than one-fourth of its newspapers and is on track to lose one-third by 2025, most of which provide communities with access to local news.

Indeed, about 7% of the nation’s counties now no longer have access to any local newspaper, as most communities whose newspapers have shut down do not receive a print or digital replacement.

“This is a crisis for our democracy and our society”, said visiting professor at Medill Penelope Muse Abernathy.

“Invariably, the economically struggling, traditionally underserved communities that need local journalism the most are the very places where it is most difficult to sustain print or digital news organizations.”

Abernathy pointed to research that shows that communities without strong print or digital news organizations suffer from a decline in voter participation and a rise in corruption, contributing to broader issues such as the spread of misinformation and reduced trust in the media.

The report found that despite the decline in newspapers, philanthropic funding contributed to the establishment of 64 new digital sites focused on covering state or local news, most of which are located in urban areas.

“It is critical to understand what is working and where there are still gaps in the flow of reliable, comprehensive, and timely news and information,” said Tim Franklin, senior associate dean, John M. Mutz, who is director of the Medill Local News Initiative.

“That way we can build solutions to sustain local journalism in communities that have, so far, been overlooked by entrepreneurs and potential funders.

The newspapers that have survived have significantly cut back on staff and circulation — 40 of the largest 100 daily newspapers now deliver a print edition six or fewer times a week; 11 deliver two times a week or less.

Medill says that the largest news chains that control many of the country’s surviving newspapers (Gannett, Lee Enterprises, and Alden Global Capital) are continuing to close or divest, rather than invest in, underperformers.

The most active buyers in recent years have been privately held regional digital chains such as Paxton Media Group and CherryRoad Media, the latter of which bought its first paper in 2020 and now owns 63 across 10 midwestern states.

The report found that some for-profit news organizations were prospering, particularly in affluent or growing communities, and nonprofit and hybrid business models were providing “signs of hope” in cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, and Houston.

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