The collapse of local news coverage across the United States

This PBS NewsHour segment was originally broadcast at the end of January but it’s still current because it’s about a continuing disaster, namely the collapse of local newspapers and news coverage.


Local television stations and their websites have to some extent kept a degree of local news going, but it’s nowhere near as complete. At one time newspapers were by far the biggest form of advertising. If you wanted to buy a house, for example, you looked in the real estate classifieds. Consistent ad revenues let papers hire lots of reporters. Of course, small towns and rural counties didn’t have the level of coverage that larger communities did, but the situation is even worse now.

There are no obvious solutions to the problem. Nonprofit news could help to some extent and is being tried a number of places. There have also been proposals for government subsidies. (In fact, many decades ago the post office delivered magazines and newspapers at reduced rate.) But there are both practical problems and political problems with this.

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