Earlier this year, the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media hosted a symposium entitled “Thwarting the Emergence of News Deserts” at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The program for the symposium centered around Penelope Muse Abernathy’s groundbreaking report, The Rise of a New Media Baron and The Emerging Threat of News Deserts.
Professor Abernathy is the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. Recently, Professor Abernathy’s report has been featured in several news pieces, including one by Paul Farhi in the Washington Post. Since the symposium, rapid consolidation of newspaper ownership has continued and her research is expanding to detail all 50 states.
Start with Part 1 of the symposium to listen to Susan King, dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, welcome everyone and introduce the moderator, Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour. Ms. Woodruff then sits down with Prof. Abernathy to talk about her report, The Rise of the New Media Barons and the Threat of News Deserts. Over the past decade, dramatic shifts in ownership of newspapers has occurred. Private equity funds, hedge funds and investment groups have bought, consolidated or closed newspapers at a rapid rate across the country. With the industry in financial distress and publishers struggling to adapt to the digital age, many communities are in danger of losing their primary source of local news and information. This report explores the long-ranging social, economic and political impact of this shift in ownership.
In Part 2, watch the panel discussion on the fiscal and technological challenges for local media and opportunities for the future.
Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor, PBS NewsHour
Bill Church, senior vice president of news, GateHouse Media
Walter Hussman, publisher, Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director, NPR
Geneva Overholser, senior fellow, Democracy Fund
Ryan Thornburg, associate professor and director, Reese News Lab, UNC School of Media and Journalism
Don’t miss Part 3 for remarks from Jennifer Preston, Vice President/Journalism at the Knight Foundation, on her vision for Knight’s commitment to local news. Ms. Preston also will engage the audience on key challenges.