What does the loss of local journalism mean for small communities around the county? Join Sara and friends, Dennis Forney and Dave Wheelan to learn more.

Since 2004, the U.S. has lost one-fourth of all its newspapers – that includes 70 big city daily papers like the Tampa Tribune, Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and more than 2,000 weekly or non-daily papers. Closures have left hundreds of communities across the country without a reliable way to learn about what’s happening in their community – leaving them in virtual news deserts. In parts of the United States, there are places where 70% of the state has no local paper. That means there are hundreds of communities with no way of learning what their local government officials are doing with their tax dollars or even what’s on the school lunch menu that day.

Often, the papers that are left are what’s known as “ghost papers”’ limping along with limited staff and little to no local coverage, filling their pages with national and international news or press releases.

A Pew Research Survey found that communities that don’t have effective media coverage paid 5 – 11% more in borrowing costs due to the lack of oversight which had to be covered with higher taxes. More seriously, the lack of a common “town square” has provided multiple opportunities for unchecked conspiracies and false news stories to proliferate, leading to a breakdown in trust among people and institutions. Without a shared community, it becomes easier to see our neighbors as our enemies.

What to Expect:

Find out what happened to trigger the loss of local media, look at the current landscape of vulnerable regions, and discuss whether local reporting matters to democracy and how and what should be done, if anything (look at contemporary efforts to support local reporting such as the pro-publica local reporting initiative). Finally, if we don’t have a paper, let’s talk about what takes its place and what your responsibility is as a citizen.

NOTE: This course was been rescheduled from the Fall semester due to a family emergency facing the instructor. Those registered for the Fall course have automatically been transferred to the new dates.

HYBRID course at the Easton Family YMCA (choose to participate in person, or through Zoom, or recording) | 2 sessions | Tuesdays | Feb 27, Mar 5 | 5:30 – 7:00 pm | $30

Sara Robins 2

Sara Robins

Sara Robins is a retired journalist, advertising executive, and nonprofit leader who did her time covering small town government meetings from Oregon to Pennsylvania for papers like the Newport News-Times, the Oregon Statesman Journal, New York Newsday, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Today, Sara devotes a considerable amount of her time making sure local media know what is happening at Chesapeake Forum as our Press Relations Chair.

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