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Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy

Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy

by Margaret Sullivan


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"An excellent introduction to the essential problem of our republic. With a wake-up call like this one, we still have a chance." —Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny

Ghosting the News tells the most troubling media story of our time: How democracy suffers when local news dies. From 2004 to 2015, 1,800 print newspaper outlets closed in the US. One in five news organizations in Canada has closed since 2008. One in three Brazilians lives in news deserts. The absence of accountability journalism has created an atmosphere in which indicted politicians were elected, school superintendents were mismanaging districts, and police chiefs were getting mysterious payouts. This is not the much-discussed fake-news problem—it's the separate problem of a critical shortage of real news.

America's premier media critic, Margaret Sullivan, charts the contours of the damage, and surveys a range of new efforts to keep local news alive—from non-profit digital sites to an effort modeled on the Peace Corps. No nostalgic paean to the roar of rumbling presses, Ghosting the News instead sounds a loud alarm, alerting citizens to a growing crisis in local news that has already done serious damage.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781733623780
Publisher: Columbia Global Reports
Publication date: 07/14/2020
Pages: 105
Sales rank: 165,247
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Margaret Sullivan is The Washington Post's media columnist and one of the nation's foremost authorities on journalism and the press. Previously, she was the longest-serving public editor of The New York Times, critiquing the paper on behalf of its readers. She began her career at The Buffalo News, where she rose through the ranks to become the paper's first female editor. Sullivan is a graduate of Georgetown University and has a masters in journalism from Northwestern University. Sullivan was twice elected a director of the American Society of News Editors, where she led the First Amendment committee, and she is a former member of the Pulitzer Prize board.

Table of Contents

Introduction 13

Chapter 1 Leaving Buffalo 28

Chapter 2 The Unregulated Toll Bridge 36

Chapter 3 News Deserts, Ghost Papers, and Beacons of Hope 50

Chapter 4 Global Problems 68

Chapter 5 New Models 73

Conclusion 89

Acknowledgments 97

Further Reading 99

Notes 101

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