New era for local journalism

Sarah Fischer | Agios

New independent digital outlets and nonprofits have started to fill some of the void left by fading local newspapers. Limited resources and the pandemic have prompted many to provide community news, information and services rather than traditional accountability journalism.

Why is this important: “This is not only a legal or structural change, but it also represents a change in the way the mission of journalism is evolving,” said Emily Roseman, research director and editor at the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN).

  • “The decline of local newspapers has not only led to more government corruption and waste, but also to polarization and disinformation,” said Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America, a journalism local non-profit.

In numbers : There are now more than 700 independent local news startups in the United States and Canada, according to Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION), a professional organization.

  • LION now has more than 400 paying members, up from 177 at the start of the pandemic, executive director Chris Krewson told Axios.
  • By comparison, at least 100 newspapers have closed during COVID, said Penny Abernathy, visiting professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
  • Without additional government support, the United States could lose 100 more newspapers next year and 500 more in the next five years, she estimates.

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