Local Papers Continue To Close Despite Efforts

A recent study found that the decline of local newspapers is speeding up with the US losing a third of its newspapers and more than 60 percent of its reporters since 2005, the Associated Press reported.

According to a study published by Northwestern University’s Medill Journalism School, on average, 2.5 newspapers have shut down each week in 2023 compared to only two newspapers a week in 2022. Most of the newspapers closing down are weekly publications in counties with few or no other news outlets.

Medill Journalism School’s Tim Franklin, who heads the local news initiative, said he is concerned that the current acceleration in closures will only get worse.

Even at the current rate of decline, within the next year, the total number of newspapers closed over the last two decades could reach 3,000, leaving only 6,000 newspapers remaining, according to the study.

Additionally, 43,000 reporting jobs, most of them from daily publications, have been lost since 2005 and newspaper advertising has collapsed.

Even digital outlets aren’t immune from closures. According to the study, digital outlets are closing at about the same rate as new digital outlets launch.

National publications are also not immune from the financial problems facing the news industry.

In October, the Washington Post announced that it would cut 240 jobs through voluntary buyouts while National Public Radio’s CEO announced in February that the outlet would begin laying off staff.

Leftwing website Jezebel announced earlier this month that it is shutting down. Meanwhile, the Associated Press this month began soliciting donations from its online readers.

According to the study, 204 US counties have no local news outlet. Another 1,562 counties, nearly half of the 3,143 US counties, have only one outlet, typically a weekly newspaper. The study placed 228 of the counties with only one outlet on a “watch list” noting that the single outlets in those counties are at risk of shutting down.