The Expanding News Desert: 2018 University of North Carolina Report

"From our very beginnings as a nation, newspapers have played a vital role in building community. Strong newspapers fostered a sense of geographic identity and in the process nurtured social cohesion and grassroots political activism. The stories and editorials they published helped set the agenda for debate of important issues, influence the policy and political decisions we made, and build trust in our institutions. The advertisements they carried drove local commerce and regional economic growth by putting potential customers together with local businesses. Ron Heifetz, professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, describes a newspaper as “an anchor” because it “reminds a community every day of its collective identity, the stake we have in one another and the lessons of our history. “

For residents in thousands of communities across the country – inner-city neighborhoods, affluent suburbs and rural towns– local newspapers have been the prime, if not sole, source of credible and comprehensive news and information that can affect the quality of their everyday lives. Yet, in the past decade and a half, nearly one in five newspapers has disappeared, and countless others have become shells – or “ghosts” – of themselves."

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UNC Report on News Deserts

We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.