Within the last ten years, as the internet has become more and more ubiquitous as people's primary source for news, local news and journalism outlets have struggled to keep up with the loss of revenue from advertising and subscriptions that they counted on in the past. The result has been heavy losses in jobs for reporters and editors. A study in the Newspaper Research Journal reported a loss of 1,800 print outlets between 2004 and 2015. But local journalism is still as important now as it has ever been. In fact, local newspapers make up 6,851 of the 7,071 daily and weekly small-market printed papers in the country and local television news sources still reach 11.9 million people every morning. People clearly rely on their local news sources for learning about the events happening in their community and in the world. Here are three reasons why local journalism is still so vital.
Distrust of National News Sources
Because local news sources have declined, people rely more and more on national news sources for a majority of their information. But because of the lack of funding and advertising, many national news outlets have to rely on the type of news that will draw in viewers as quickly as possible and in the greatest numbers. That means an increase in coverage on news that is exciting, scandalous, or dramatic and a decrease in in-depth journalism stories. When that happens, people begin to distrust national news sources as a place to get quality journalism.
Provide Public Information
The best place for viewers to get information on the things that directly affect them is through local newspapers and television news. When those sources decline, so does the community's access to the information that is most relevant and useful. As a result, there is also a decline in the public's ability to participate in civic discourse or civic duty as it becomes harder and harder to access or parse the information that is the most relevant to the community's interests.
Act as a Watchdog
One of the chief responsibilities of journalism is to be the community's watchdog and to provide a public check on authority and corruption. Though that frequently happens at a national level, it's also essential that it happen locally as well. When local matters are overlooked in favor of only news that can reach a national audience, corruption may go un-checked at a local level.
For these reasons and others, it's important to continue supporting your local news sources.