Monday, July 09, 2018

Research breaks down the closure and merger of American weekly and daily newspapers since 2004 by circulation size

Data from Penny Abernathy, Univ. of North Carolina; chart by BBC
Data from Penny Abernathy, Univ. of North Carolina; chart by BBC
A recent research paper by Bill Reader of Ohio University on the population of U.S. newspaper presumed that most of the 1,639 weekly newspapers that closed between 2004 and 2016 had small circulations. That is confirmed by the continuing research of Penelope Muse Abernathy and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina, charted by the BBC in a report on U.S. newspapers. Most papers have small circulations; weeklies average less than 5,000.

The Beeb's story is mainly about the downsizing, merger or closure of local dailies, using The Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo., as its object example. But some of the ramifications of those phenomena are probably also true of weeklies: less coverage of elections, less civic engagement, higher costs of government borrowing and "growing blind spots in health," a concern raised by epidemiologists.

"When local papers cut coverage there's essentially nothing to take its place in these local communities," political scientist Danny Hayes of George Washington University told the BBC's Taylor Kate Brown.

Abernathy has some points, as described by Brown: "Local news sets the agenda for public debates by bringing particular issues to public attention, encourages regional business development by connecting local businesses with local residents (whether through ads or coverage) and can reflect what's similar or different about a national problem on the local level." Abernathy said, "A strong local newspaper shows you how you are related to people you may not know you're related to."

Brown ends her story with an appeal: "Local news in the US is on the decline - so how do you stay informed about your hometown? Send us your comments or questions to and we will respond to what you tell us, as part of our 'Ask America' series."

No comments: