From 2018-2020, 300 newspapers closed, 6,000 journalists employed by newspapers disappeared (through layoffs, retirements, etc.), and print newspaper circulation decreased by 5 million. Publishers consolidated, with the largest chains now backed by private equity firms and hedge funds that value shareholder profits over producing high quality journalism for the public good. A 2020 report by Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, stated that "local news has been hijacked by a few large news aggregation platforms, most notably Google and Facebook, which have become the dominant players in advertising. These trillion-dollar companies scrape local news content and data for their own sites and leverage their market dominance to force local news to accept little to no compensation for their intellectual property."
As the traditional for-profit business model collapsed and people turned to social media for news, news deserts emerged across the nation.
Supporters of a free press in our democracy are promoting innovative ways to move forward including The Seattle Times Save the Free Press initiative, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media's ideas for "The Path Forward: Reinventing Local News," and two acts working through Congress: The Local Journalism Sustainability Act (H.R. 7640) and The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.
Help: Analyzing Newspapers
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology (2020). "Local Journalism: America's Most Trusted News Sources Threatened."
Muse Abernathy, Penelope. (2020). "The Expanding News Desert."