Northwestern report reveals growing threat of 'news deserts' across US

A recent study by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism highlights an alarming trend in the decline of local news, identifying one in 14 U.S. counties at substantial risk of losing their primary news sources.

The annual report on the state of local news reveals that over half of all U.S. counties now lack sufficient local news coverage, with some having no local news outlets or only one remaining, often limited to weekly newspapers.

A key contributor to this concerning trend is the accelerated pace of local newspaper closures, which rose to an average of 2.5 per week, up from 2 per week in the previous year. The 2023 study introduces predictive modeling, indicating that 228 counties are at high risk of becoming "news deserts" in the coming year.

Since 2005, over 2,900 newspapers have shut down, resulting in the loss of nearly two-thirds of newspaper journalists' positions, totaling around 43,000 jobs. A co-author of the report emphasized the crisis this poses for democracy, especially in poorer and underserved communities, where the significant loss of news outlets threatens the foundational role of journalism in a democratic society.