While we navigate through a transformative period of news and media, one fact holds true: we will always need news. Nonetheless, it’s changing — and changing fast.
As we rebuild the news media, journalists all over the world are losing their jobs. There are few remaining local reporters; yet, our need for coverage increases everyday.
After reading a piece by Ken Doctor, I understand that there is a problem in our field beyond the decline of traditional news publishing. He believes that it’s a question of capacity, and whether the decline of local newspapers will eliminate our access and knowledge on local news. Can national papers keep up to date with local issues?
Many would like to say, yes. However, I truly believe we will always need local papers. According to an article by Jeremy Littau, a recent study from the University of North Carolina reported that 20 percent of local newspapers have been eliminated since 2004, and 900 communities have faced an absence of coverage during this time.
Is there anyway to reverse the fate of our local publications? Even back in 2017, David Uberti wrote a piece on the diminishing sectors of local news, and the impact it may have on our industry. Although I’m sure he never imagined we’d be at this point today, he does provide some insightful advice from experienced journalists. For example, Uberti writes that Joanne Lipman, Gannett’s chief content officer and editor and chief of USA Today, said that journalism can prosper if we adapt to audience preferences.
“It’s all about elevating the journalism,” Lipman says, “and making sure our journalism is reaching the audience where the audience is, in the form that the audience is consuming content right now, and then thinking about what comes next.”
Uberti also reported the extreme need for local newspapers following the 2016 presidential campaign, which revealed the distance between citizens and national publications. Outside of politics, national publications can also lack the scope of covering businesses, people and even tragedies in small communities.
I’m fortunate to live in a town that still produces local news, and I fear the day when it may no longer be available. Hopefully, that day will never come. It’s time to restore our remaining local papers, and transform our content and publishing to adhere to audience needs.
I like the way Lipman said, “elevating journalism”. It’s time to elevate our profession, and think about what comes next in the world of news. Everything comes back to the fact that we will ALWAYS need the news, but how can we prove that through our local publications? The answer to that question has not yet been answered, but I have faith that in the near future, one way or another, our local papers will come to life again.