Local news outlets are dying. According to a recent report from the Medill Local News Initiative, more than 2,800 newspapers, predominantly local papers, have closed their doors since 2005 due in part to a “dramatic decline in advertising revenue.”
In a democracy, civic participation at every level requires high quality, easily accessible information. At the local level, it requires skilled journalists reporting on small-town police departments, state politicians’ homemade IDs, and local censorship crusades.
National outlets publish some great work: Jamelle Bouie’s opinion pieces for The New York Times and Elizabeth Bruenig’s coverage of the death penalty for The Atlantic both come to mind. But it will never make financial sense for The Washington Post to pay full-time journalists in small Alabama towns to cover city council meetings.
Unfortunately, the number of journalists actually paid to report on local news has been declining even faster than the number of local news outlets.
The Crimson White has been The University of Alabama's newspaper since 1894.