|Chart by Napoli and Mahone; click on the image to enlarge it.|
With those questions in mind, Napoli and Mahone did a study to see which types of news outlets are the most significant journalism sources in 100 randomly sampled U.S. communities. The research is an extension of a previous study that looked at all media outlets in those same 100 communities and analyzed a week's worth of news stories to see how original, local, and important they were. That study found a surprising shortage of local news in some papers.
In the latest study, "The results show, fairly convincingly, that despite the economic hardships that local newspapers have endured, they remain, by far, the most significant providers of journalism in their communities," Napoli and Mahone write. "And while there is great hope and expectation that newer, online journalism sources will emerge to compensate for the cutbacks and closures affecting local newspapers, our study has shown that this has yet to take place."
"While legacy newspapers have declined, they certainly have yet to be displaced as vital producers of local journalism. And the long hoped for emergence of online-only outlets as comparable providers of local journalism still appears to be a long way off," Napoli and Mahone write. "As policymakers and philanthropic organizations concerned about local journalism consider their next steps, and where to invest their efforts and resources, it may be worth keeping these numbers in mind."