Is There a Market for Saving Local News?

Jump-starting journalism in smaller, economically depressed places requires a degree of patience, and some tolerance for risk.
Silhouette of a man reading a newspaper near a sunny window of an eatery.
News deserts remain in much of the United States, where two-thirds of the nation’s counties don’t have a daily newspaper.Photograph by Jose Azel / Getty

The Cleveland Press, dead at 103.” That was WEWS Cleveland’s proclamation on June 17, 1982, the day the paper—which the former mayor Carl Stokes once wrote had determined every mayor from 1941 to 1965—made its last print run. A decades-long slide in the power of the area’s local media followed. These days, the Cleveland press writ large is, if not dead, then seriously ill. In May, 2020, the Cleveland Plain Dealer closed its newsroom after a round of crippling layoffs, and took over the paper—which is delivered only four days a week—with sixty-four “journalists and content producers” running the show. Plucky independent publications, along with public radio and local TV news, still exist, of course, but the depletion of the legacy newspaper was an undeniable blow to the region’s news ecosystem.