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.


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

Comparing media ownership models, and the future of “all-digital” news models: Questions with Merja Myllylahti

Since 2011, Merja Myllylahti, a former financial journalist, has been tracking media ownership patterns in New Zealand. During that time, ownership has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few barons. What are the implications of this for her country? Are there cautionary lessons for U.S. media companies, which are going through a period of contraction and consolidation? What Continue Reading

What Happens to Political Participation in Communities When Metro Papers Pull Back? Questions with Sarah Cavanah

Newspapers have historically served a critical role in our democracy, identifying the “hot button” issues that are debated and voted on in communities large and small.   Dr. Sarah Cavanah, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota, is focused on researching the role of public affairs journalism in supporting healthy communities. A former newspaper and magazine journalist and public Continue Reading

Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism, Questions with James Hamilton

What is the value to society of investigative journalism? In his new book, Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism (Harvard, 2016), author James T. (Jay) Hamilton calculates the long-term economic consequence to society when lives are saved and disasters are averted by such reporting.  He argues that citizens who live in a community are the real beneficiaries of investigative Continue Reading