When local papers stop being local


The DeWitt Wallace Center at Duke University is looking at the cold hard facts behind the decline of local journalism. Its latest project is documenting how much access communities are getting to news sources and determining if some communities are more susceptible to losing local outlets than others. The project is going deeper than just looking at the existence or absence of news outlets, and is investigating the quality as well as the quantity of local journalism.

The research team randomly chose 100 communities in the U.S. and analyzed their local journalism output for a week. They found that 20 of the communities did not have any local news stories produced during the week. Twelve communities did not have any original stories during the week, meaning that they were re-posting articles on their site but had not written the articles themselves. Out of the news stories produced in the observed communities, 44 percent were original, 17 percent were local news and 56 percent provided information that was of public interest.

These results suggest a shortage in reporting on local matters and furthermore, much of the information local outlets provide is not written by the local outlets themselves. Out of all stories, 11% were local, original and addressed the public’s need for hard news.

To read the full study and more findings the researchers found, click here.