When local news dies, so does democracy
Nearly 1,800 newsrooms have shuttered across the US since 2004, leaving many communities unseen, unheard and in the dark. In this passionate talk and rallying cry, journalist Chuck Plunkett explains why he rebelled against his employer to raise awareness for an industry under threat of extinction -- and makes the case for local news as an essential part of any healthy democracy.
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Chuck Plunkett advocates for greater public awareness and support of quality local news.
Released in 2018, this study provides in shocking detail the many problems facing local news from coast to coast. Did you know that half of Americans don’t believe that local news is being covered correctly? That three-fourths aren’t aware of the financial forces at play? These researchers do, and they take great care to explain the myriad reasons behind the industry’s decline. Easy to follow, the report offers readers a chance to search gaps in news coverage in their state and elsewhere. You can learn more about the ownership of papers and a recent update allows readers to track the problem in Canada.
Some of the best media and public policy minds in Colorado worked to produce this thorough report about both the ills facing Colorado communities as local news declines and point to solutions. Among them, John Temple and Gregory L. Moore, former top editors at the now defunct Rocky Mountain News and the decimated Denver Post, respectively. As the once fierce competitors noted in a joint column about the study, “(W)e believe it’s critical that Coloradans now seriously consider the project’s fundamental recommendation that public support — yes, the use of tax dollars — be one of the steps the state takes to help sustain and develop local public-service journalism.” Of course, what’s going on in Colorado is going on across the country. The solutions proposed would help in your community, too.
What the Colorado Media Project does for Colorado, PEN America’s report does for the nation. As the authors of this study note, “At a time when political polarization is growing and fraudulent news is spreading, a shared baseline of facts on the issues that most directly affect Americans is more essential than ever.” The report is clear and straightforward as it calls for a broad concerted national philanthropic, private and public effort to lend a hand. Also intriguing is its call for a congressional commission to craft clear-eyed recommendations for how the government can support local newsrooms.
Among the journalistic heroes doing the hard work of tracking the ruinous practices of hedge-fund ownership is Julie Reynolds, who regularly publishes exposés detailing the abuses of Alden Global Capital, the owner of dozens of papers including The Denver Post. Reynolds, an investigative reporter who witnessed Alden’s destruction in San Francisco’s Bay Area, offers a vast repository of in-depth stories that are engaging, informative and critically important.
From Harvard’s Neiman Foundation for Journalism comes this lively and informative collection of constantly updating reports on the news industry. The site seeks to help journalists and those interested in the profession to chart a new and successful future in these perilous times.
Ken Doctor’s work helped inform the Denver Rebellion. Doctor, a brilliant news industry analyst, digs into the finances and strategies of hedge-fund ownership and other challenges and his reports are as easy to read as they are often harrowing in their findings.