This stubborn fact faces the growing movement to save local journalism: the majority of grants and other aid may need to flow to newspapers, rather than other news media, because they deliver the majority of the news in local information ecosystems.
For a 2018 report, Duke University researchers set out to document how local original news is generated and were startled to discover that while newspapers were just 25% of local news outlets, they produced more original local civic content than radio, TV and online newsrooms combined.
“We expected there might be some differences, (that) newspapers might produce more,” says Jessica Mahone, a researcher at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. “I don’t think we thought it would be near the gap that it is.”
Mahone and her team tallied all the news available in 100 randomly selected U.S. communities on random days. In all, they analyzed 16,000 stories provided by 663 local media outlets, focusing especially on original and local information that fulfills critical information needs, such as health, disaster or education news.
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