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.


Clara Hendrickson

The Need for More Robust Local News Coverage: Questions with Clara Hendrickson

Alarmed by the shuttering of hundreds of local newspapers in the U.S.  as well as massive reporter layoffs in recent years, the Brookings Institution’s Clara Hendrickson undertook a study aimed at understanding what was at stake for American democracy and what could be done to reverse the trend. “Local Journalism in Crisis: Why America Must Revive Its Local Newsrooms” concludes, Continue Reading

Tracking the Changing Local News Landscape: Questions with Damian Radcliffe

Damian Radcliffe Change is constant and often frenetic, especially when considering the local news landscape in the U.S. and abroad. As professor of the practice at the University of Oregon, Damian Radcliffe is a 2018-19 Faculty Fellow at the Agora Journalism Center at the School of Journalism and Communication, which serves as a “gathering place” – bringing together journalists and Continue Reading
PEN America, which has championed literary freedom of expression for almost 100 years, in November published a report in November titled “Losing the News: The Decimation of Local Journalism and the Search for Solutions.” The organization’s president, Jennifer Egan, said that threats to free expression have [grown], adding that her nonprofit was “uniquely equipped” to fight these threats.

Resurrecting Local News: Questions with Viktorya Vilk and Nora Benavidez

The Decimation of Local Journalism and the Search for Solutions.” The organization’s president, Jennifer Egan, said that threats to free expression have [grown], adding that her nonprofit was “uniquely equipped” to fight these threats.Continue Reading

More Loss of Local News: Questions with April Lindgren

The widespread loss of local news isn’t just a U.S. problem. It’s an international one, affecting our neighbors to the north at nearly the same rapid rate. In Canada, 260 news outlets – including more than 200 newspapers, two dozen broadcast outlets and a dozen online news sites – have closed or merged within the past 10 years. And much Continue Reading

What Communities are at Risk of Becoming News Deserts? Questions with Phil Napoli

While the economic challenges confronting news organizations are well documented, there is less research into how this affects the quality and quantity of local news. In an effort to better identify which communities are at risk of becoming news deserts, a Duke University team analyzed the digital news stories produced by local media outlets in 100 randomly selected communities throughout Continue Reading

How Can Public Broadcasters Become More Digitally Savvy? Questions with Annika Sehl

Public broadcasters such as the BBC have historically played an essential role in informing citizens, but many have struggled to adapt digitally.   Most recent studies focus on the external challenges confronting public broadcasters, such as funding sources, but fail to consider how internal factors can stymie or accelerate digital innovation. Dr. Annika Sehl, a trained newsbroadcaster and author of a book on Continue Reading

The impact of mythology and technology on how journalists gather information: Questions with Zvi Reich and Yigal Godler

In an era where journalists can do much of their research on the Internet, how much on-the-ground “shoe-leather” reporting still occurs? Zvi Reich, associate professor in the department for communication studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, along with Yigal Godler, assistant professor at the Department of Media Studies and Journalism at the University of Groningen (Netherlands), sought Continue Reading

Matthew Weber

Podcast: The 21st Century Newsroom, Questions with Matthew Weber

Over the last decade, there have been significant shifts in how news is packaged, how news is consumed and how news is paid for or sold. But, how have hiring practices of newsrooms changed -- if at all -- in the face of such disruption? A new project wants to find the answer, provide strategies for helping newsrooms adapt and Continue Reading

A Broader Framework for the News Industry: Questions with Seth Lewis

Who and what shapes the news stories that are ultimately published or broadcast?  Seth Lewis and Oscar Westlund explore this question and to try to capture the full range of forces shaping the media industry in their article: “Actors, Actants, Audiences and Activities in Cross-Media News Work.” Rather than focusing primarily on the decisions made during the editing process in Continue Reading

Who should pay for local public affairs journalism? Questions with Christopher Ali

What exactly is local news and, more broadly, local media? How should we regulate it and how much do we value it? Is it important enough, for instance, for us as taxpayers to subsidize local news gathering organizations – or even more radically, should our governments provide local news free of charge, just as public education is offered free to Continue Reading

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