Spotlight on Research

A regular series of articles that highlights research in the academy and in the profession on the emerging threat of news deserts or changes in media ownership.

The Media Struggle for Sustainability is Worldwide: Questions with Anne Nelson

Media in the United States are not alone in struggling to find a new model for sustainability and profitability. Anne Nelson, author, lecturer and a research fellow at the Saltzmann Institute at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, surveyed more than 220 individual newspapers and media executives in more than 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Continue Reading

Do Tax, Charity Laws Inhibit Funding for News? Questions with Robert Picard

As newspapers and digital sites struggle for financial stability, industry executives and policymakers have been exploring and proposing new business models, including laws and regulations that encourage nonprofit support from charitable organizations and foundations. Robert Picard, senior research fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at University of Oxford, has for years been examining the connection between laws and journalistic Continue Reading

Democracy Needs Good Journalism: Questions with Victor Pickard

The collapse of the business model supporting both local newspapers and digital start-up endeavors has left many U.S. communities with a dearth of critically important news and information. Because an informed citizenry is crucial for democracy to thrive, the situation raises the question: Can we have democracy without journalism? In his latest book, Democracy Without Journalism? Victor Pickard examines the Continue Reading

Political Ads and Local TV News: Questions with Danilo Yanich

 As hometown newspapers disappear, residents often turn to local television stations for their news and information, especially about state and local political candidates and issues. Political ads on local television are the most important way candidates in the United States convey their messages, says Danilo Yanich, professor of urban affairs and public policy at the Biden School of Public Policy Continue Reading

Getting Readers to Pay: Questions with Iris Chyi

As they struggle to make enough money to stay in business, U.S. newspapers have increasingly turned to digital subscriptions. But readers have been reluctant to pay for digital subscriptions after years of getting information for free online. Hsiang Iris Chyi, associate professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleague Yee Man Margaret Ng examined Continue Reading

What Makes Not-For-Profit News Tick? Questions with Magda Konieczna

Journalists and others have begun looking more closely at a nonprofit model for news publications as the business model dependent on advertising revenue has dwindled drastically. Since 2008, nonprofit newsrooms in the United States have opened at an average rate of about one a month, but many struggle financially. Magda Konieczna examined the problem in her 2018 book, Journalism Without Continue Reading

Life in a News Desert: Questions with Nick Mathews

The number of failed newspapers and the rise of news deserts in the United States is the wide-angle story. But if you zoom in, you discover how the people who live in those news deserts are coping with the situation. Recent research has shown that residents in news deserts are less likely to vote in local elections, and they often Continue Reading

Rebuilding Trust in the Media: Questions with Anya Schiffrin

Accusations of fake news undermine people’s faith in credible reporting. Whom or what organization do you trust these days? Facebook, the local newspaper, cable news, Twitter? In “Bridging the Gap: Rebuilding Citizen Trust in the Media,” Anya Schiffrin, along with colleagues at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, examined how news organizations around the globe are attempting to Continue Reading

Finding the Money to Keep Going: Questions with Piet Bakker

Making enough money to stay in business and pay staff is a continuing problem for many intensely local news entities the world over. Piet Bakker, along with colleagues Clare Cook and Kathryn Geels, examined the operations of 35 hyperlocal publishers in their report Hyperlocal Revenues in the UK and Europe.  The researchers explore whether hyperlocal news organizations are fulfilling a Continue Reading

What Makes for Strong Local News Coverage? Questions with Sarah Stonbely

Why do some communities have an abundance of local news coverage, and others don’t? In a forthcoming paper, What Makes for Robust Local News Provision?, Sarah Stonbely, research director at the Center for Cooperative Media in Montclair, N.J., identifies community characteristics that foster local news coverage. Studying hundreds of cities and towns in New Jersey, she found that median household Continue Reading

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