What happened to your local newspaper – and what you can do about it

21 minutes

•  Stopping the death of a free press

•  “We’ve seen in the last decade or so a massive, severe drop in local news”

(Total Recorded Tine is 27:41)

You might remember seeing them at various events around town such as a school board meeting -- back in the day.  Or perhaps you remember smudging your fingers on the ink from the morning paper, reading what they wrote -- back in the day.

The apex of that “ancient” time was only about two decades ago, when the local newspaper sent reporters to cover the meeting of your school board or town council, a performance of the local concert band or a ribbon-cutting at a new local business.

According to the Pew Research Center, newspaper newsroom employment peaked in 2006 at about 74,000 jobs.  Today that number has fallen to under 30,000.

It’s a slide expected to continue, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says “declining advertising revenue … is expected to impact the long-term demand” for reporters and editors.

Trying to do something about it is the nonprofit organization Report for America, which places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities, paying half of their first-year wages and a third of their pay in year two.

Heading that effort is Steven Waldman, a former newspaper journalist.

“We’ve seen in the last decade or so a massive, severe drop in local news – in the capacity of local reporting particularly,” says Mr. Waldman.

He says the lack of local news coverage isn’t just about reporter jobs or empty newspaper buildings. It is, he says, a growing threat to American democracy.

“This isn’t just about journalists not having jobs. This is about communities not being well-informed,” he says.  “When you have a collapse on this scale of local news … voter turnout goes down, corruption goes up, bond ratings go down, pollution goes up, people’s engagement with the community lags, people’s alienation from the community increases, polarization increases.”

Steven Waldman joins us for this Bizgnus Interview Podcast. It’s not all doom-n-gloom as Mr. Waldman can see changes taking hold that might save the industry – and the democracy.

Please click here to watch the Bizgnus interview:

https://youtu.be/LtwgsjS5HdY

For more information:  https://www.reportforamerica.org/

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