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Can Local News Survive The Coronavirus Pandemic?

A newspaper headline announcing the closure of large events is displayed as a cable car goes down California Street, Friday, March 13, 2020, in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP Photo)
A newspaper headline announcing the closure of large events is displayed as a cable car goes down California Street, Friday, March 13, 2020, in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP Photo)

At a time when the public needs information, local news is taking a major hit from the coronavirus. Can local news survive the pandemic, just when it’s needed most?

Guests

David Folkenflik, On Point co-host. NPR media correspondent. ( @davidfolkenflik)

Josh Stearns, director of the Public Square Program at the Democracy Fund. ( @jcstearns)

Brie Zeltner, health reporter recently laid off from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. ( @BrieZeltner)

From The Reading List

NPR: “ Pandemic Threatens Local Papers Even As Readers Devour Their Coverage” — “The email came in from the editor of a small newspaper in Seaside, Calif. And she wasn’t the bearer of good news.”

Poynter: “ Here are the newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures caused by the coronavirus” — “It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now. But we have to. Here’s our attempt to collect the layoffs, furloughs, and closures caused by the coronavirus’ critical blow to the economy and journalism in the United States. Please send tips. We’ll try to keep up.”

The Washington Post: “ Deep newspaper job cuts prompt rare plea for federal funding to news media” — “An economic free fall in the local news industry began long before the coronavirus started wreaking havoc on the national economy. Since shutdowns to combat the virus began, things have gotten much worse, as advertisers halted spending and publishers slashed more journalists’ jobs and hours despite the public’s need for information on the pandemic.”

Forbes: “ Newspaper Revenue Drops As Local News Interest Rises Amid Coronavirus” — “It is no secret newspapers have been struggling. Circulation and ad revenue have been in a steady decline for decades. In 2018, U.S. newspaper circulation was at its lowest figure since 1940, the year when circulation information was first made available.”

The Boston Globe: “ Community newspapers were already in a tough spot. Coronavirus might destroy them” — “As the top government official in Somerset County, Maine, Dawn DiBlasi is struggling to get a handle on the reach of the coronavirus locally because there isn’t a single hometown newspaper left dedicated to covering this rural area of 50,000 people.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.