Most people think local journalism is financially healthy. Here’s the troubling reality.

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Most people think local journalism is financially healthy. Here’s the troubling reality.

Mar 31 2019

According to a Pew Research public opinion poll 3 in 4 Americans believe that local news outlets are in good financial shape and fewer than 1 in 6 pays for local news.

“I found the survey results to be really sad and disturbing,” said David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, which advocates for news organizations. “Local journalism is very much at risk, and the public just doesn’t seem to realize it.”

In the 1990s, 30 percent profit margins were common at regional newspapers and the chains that owned them but revenue from print advertising has declined precipitously and a new generation of news consumers never developed the daily-newspaper habit that their parents and grandparents had. Newspapers (and to a lesser extent local TV stations) were forced to cut costs and reduce employees (by 45 percent between 2008 and 2017.

But even in their shrunken state, many regional newspapers are producing important public-interest journalism. While this may seem encouraging, the ability to do so is fragile: the gutting of many local papers continues apace…

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