With decline in newspapers, is local gov't accountability at risk?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
 | 
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

newspaper rack (coin type)An essential element of American life is at stake: local news coverage. That's according to a recent survey revealing the decline in small-town newspapers in recent years.

The Associated Press has crunched the numbers, and smaller towns and cities across America are losing their local newspapers. More than 1,400 towns and cities in the U.S. have lost a local newspaper over the last 15 years. As AP states: "Local journalism is dying in plain sight" – and so is the local government accountability those papers provide.

Those who want to follow the latest political scandal or keep abreast of the latest weather disaster typically have that craving satisfied via major news outlets on television, radio, and the worldwide web. But the results of local school board elections or a town's plan to repave some streets, for example, aren't likely to be covered.

More often than not, though, those issues are more important than national news to the typical resident, according to Bobby Irwin, who is in charge of programming at Colorado Springs' local news provider KVOR.

"They say the most effective government is on the local level," he shares with OneNewsNow. "So the media, out of respect for that at least, should be reporting on what they can on the local level."

But the traditional way of getting that news is dying off, according to the AP – and a big reason for that is because advertising revenue as nosedived since 2006, according to the Pew Research Center.

Boyle

Paul Boyle, senior VP of public policy for News Media Alliance, says there's been a lot of changes over that time, mostly because of the rise of social media.

"Where at one time [a newspaper] was fully supported by advertising revenue, now it's a combination of advertising revenue and subscription revenue," he explains.

But while a newspaper subscription might start costing a bit more, Boyle contends that rumors of the death of the newspaper have been greatly exaggerated.

"There has been a reduction in journalists who cover certain news beats, and that's likely to continue," he admits. "But still, newspapers have more reporters on the street covering their local communities than any other medium."

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