News deserts are expanding. Nearly two decades ago, the United States had about 9,000 newspapers; as 2019 came to a close, it had 6,700. Of the country’s 3,143 counties, over 200 have no newspaper or other sources of credible news. Half of these counties only have one newspaper and two-thirds do not have a daily newspaper. These losses have been especially glaring in the Midwest and the East.
A lack of access to credible news facilitates the spread of disinformation and drives up political and social polarization. It erodes trust in the news media and can exacerbate the digital divide between residents with good internet access who can seek out diverse sources of news and people with poor or no connectivity.
Residents who speak very little or no English who live in communities dominated by local news outlets that only provide news and information in English confront another serious problem: They live in linguistic news deserts. These residents are usually left behind when it comes to finding out about critical government, school, business, and other key developments and events in their communities.