By some estimates, one-third of the newspapers that existed in the U.S. in 2005 will be gone by 2025. Some 70 million Americans already live in “news deserts,” or will soon. In the United Kingdom, 320 local newspapers closed between 2009 and 2019. The private equity firms that have been buying up news organizations tend to make things worse. Rather than investing in journalism, their focus is on ruthlessly reducing the size of newsrooms and selling off newspaper buildings (many of which are in lucrative downtown locations).
The implications for democracy are beyond debate. Social scientists who study the issue have demonstrated clearly that less local journalism results in higher levels of corruption, undermines political competition and reduces citizen engagement.