Q&A with Penny Abernathy

Penny Abernathy

The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) featured a Q&A with Penny Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, where she covers everything from the impetus behind her U.S. News Deserts research and her definition of a “news desert” to the hope that gets her up in the morning.

The article forms part of CJR’s The Journalism Crisis Project, which they launched in partnership with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School in June 2020.

Adding to existing local news research — including Abernathy’s — the project was inspired by two big stories this spring that underscored the need for local news: the coronavirus pandemic and the uprisings across the country in response to police brutality.

While noting the challenges facing journalism, Abernathy voiced hope about its future in the piece: “Here’s what gets me up every morning, and charging ahead: I think over the last two years, there has been a real awakening in the industry, among community activists, and among certain politicians as to what is at stake if we lose the local newspaper, in whatever form it is delivered.”