This is the fourth report on the loss of local news, written and/or edited by Penelope Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Previous reports are listed below. All reports are available for downloading at: http://usnewsdeserts.com.
The Expanding News Desert (2018): The report analyzes the social, political and economic consequences posed by the rise of news deserts by documenting the loss of local newspapers in recent years and attempts by other media – including television and digital outlets – to fill the void. It also explores the indelible mark left on the newspaper industry by the financiers – hedge funds and private equity firms – who own and operate some of the largest chains in the country.
Thwarting the Emergence of News Deserts (2017): This edited collection of curated and invited articles provides insight into the topics discussed at a symposium at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Each article offers a slightly different perspective on the possibilities and obstacles newspapers and communities across the country are confronting in the digital era. Two of the articles examine how ownership of five local newspapers in eastern North Carolina influenced coverage of the 2016 elections and the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
The Rise of a New Media Baron and the Emerging Threat of News Deserts (2016): In the wake of the 2008 recession, a new type of media baron – private equity firms, hedge funds and other investment partnerships – swooped in to buy hundreds of distressed newspapers. These new owners prioritized bottom-line performance over journalism’s civic mission. Their rise coincided with a period of immense disruption in the industry. This report documents the dramatic ownership trends during a pivotal decade (2004 to 2014) and considers the long-term implications for local news.
In addition, the author has produced two books that explore for-profit and nonprofit business strategies for reviving local news.
The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur (Wiley Blackwell: 2018): Co-authored by two veteran media executives who are now university professors, the book offers a detailed compendium of lessons and case studies that identify emerging business models for both start-up and legacy companies attempting to craft strategies that take advantage of the interactive, always-on internet. Its companion website – http://www.cislm.org/digitalstrategy/ – has videos and additional case studies on entrepreneurial endeavors.
Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability (UNC Press: 2014): This book acknowledges the civic contribution of a strong local newspaper while also exploring the economic peril many face. Examining experiences at a wide variety of community papers, it lays out a strategic path forward that leads to transformation and long-term economic sustainability. The companion website – http://www.savingcommunityjournalism.com – provides examples of how newspapers can shed legacy costs, rebuild a vibrant community on many platforms, and create new revenue opportunities.