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Stop the Presses? Newspapers in the Digital Age

CRS Report – Stop the Presses? Newspapers in the Digital Age, January 27, 2022: “During the last 20 years, more than 200 local daily newspapers have either reduced their publication frequency or ceased publishing altogether. Among those that survive, many employ a fraction of the journalists that they did at the turn of the 21stcentury, and publish far fewer original local and investigative news stories than they did previously. As a result, in order to get local news, thousands of U.S. communities rely on “ghost newspapers” that are shells of their former selves or, if they have internet service,on websites or chat groups that rarely employ full-time professional journalists. Among other societal effects, researchers report that the lack of a daily newspaper to monitor local governments and publicly traded companies and hold them accountable can lead to increased financing costs to make up for investors’ lack of trust. Daily newspaper revenue, adjusted for inflation, has fallen approximately 80% since it peaked at $89 billion in 2000. Several factors have led to the contraction of the newspaper industry, with the exception of large, national newspapers. Technological developments enabling citizens to access news without a subscription from websites and mobile apps have increased competition for readers. Revenue gains from online newspaper subscriptions have not replaced revenues lost as subscriptions to print newspapers decline. In addition,a large share of advertising that formerly appeared in newspapers has shifted to online platforms. Likewise, for local and regional newspapers, revenues from online editions of newspapers have not replaced revenues lost from print editions.Business decisions by news aggregators such as Apple News and Google News and by social media platforms such as Facebook also affect the viability of newspapers. As intermediaries between newspapers and their readers, these online platforms can help increase newspapers’ readership. However, they can also impede the ability of newspapers to sell subscriptions and collect data about their readers, which can be key to selling online advertising…”

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