When Berkshire Hathaway cut nearly 300 jobs across its news media company in April, it fell to individual newspapers to implement layoffs and determine how best to protect their newsrooms. Gannett made a similar number of cuts last year; after a second, more recent round, CJR’s David Uberti pointed out that the media company had become less transparent about how reductions would affect the company’s newspapers and the readers they serve.
“The confusion is yet more evidence of the difficulty in measuring what communities lose—accountability journalism, beat reporting, institutional knowledge—as local newspapers wither,” wrote Uberti.
Recent changes to local news are hardly confined to newspapers. Yesterday, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced its acquisition of Tribune Media Company in a $3.9 billion deal that leaves Sinclair “poised to cover more than a third of the country’s television households,” according to The New York Times. Coverage of the deal has touched on Sinclair’s alleged conservative slant as well as concerns over the consequences of media consolidation.
Of course, these aren’t the only stories to tell about the shifting local news landscape and its consequences.
“Just as the local news financial picture seems more daunting than ever, new energy is building to address the problem,” writes Kyle Pope, CJR’s editor in chief, in a foreword to our new issue. “Is it fixable, or are America’s local newsrooms going away for good? What are the implications for open records, for accountability—for our democracy?”
CJR’s spring issue, “The Future of Local News,” is a step towards answering those questions. At CJR.org, we’ve published a few pieces from the issue, including Uberti’s in-depth profile of Gannett, one of the country’s largest publishers of local newspapers, and Deron Lee’s coverage of the hard lessons of the nonprofit newsroom surge.
Throughout the month, CJR.org will publish more stories from its local news issue that explore both the problems facing local news organizations and the implications for our country if they falter. Subscribe to the magazine here, and watch CJR.org for more.
Be sure to read these new stories from CJR and correspondents to the United States Project: