The same pace — about two closures per week — was occurring before the pandemic.
The pandemic has been bad for the country’s local newspapers. But maybe not as bad as some people have feared.
Over 360 newspapers in the United States have gone out of business since just before the start of the pandemic, according to a new report from Northwestern University’s journalism school.
That same pace — about two closures per week — was occurring before the pandemic. Many newspaper analysts had thought that the economic conditions created by the coronavirus, especially a decline in advertising, would cause the rate to increase considerably.
“The good news is there were a lot of fears as the pandemic set in and we had a very severe economic constriction that it was going to be kind of the death knell for many newspapers,” said Penelope Muse Abernathy, the author of the report and a visiting professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. “The good news is it didn’t occur. The bad news is, or the concerning news is, we are continuing to lose newspapers at the same rate we’ve been losing them since 2005.”
The closures have perpetuated the problem of so-called news deserts — places with limited access to local news, the report said. Over one-fifth of Americans now live in such a place, or in a place that is at risk of becoming one.