When Covid-19 became rampant in the United States in 2020, local newsrooms across the country shrank – despite reporting the biggest story in decades.
“As for readers, we saw this soaring during the pandemic,” Emma Way, editor at Axios Charlotte, told CNBC. “At the same time as revenue was falling, readership was rising. It was kind of a dilemma that I’m sure many news organizations have been facing.”
Reporters have been fired and on leave. Some who stayed were offered buyouts.
It was a disastrous and uncertain time for American newsrooms.
More than 70 local newsrooms across the country were closed during the pandemic. This includes newspapers that have served their communities for decades. Often these papers are closed without notice.
But the problem existed long before the pandemic.
Around 1,800 US newspapers have closed since 2004. Newspapers struggled to make money when print advertising collapsed as readership switched to the Internet. Then the digital advertising market was quickly dominated by tech companies like Google and Facebook.
Today, some of the country’s largest newspaper companies – such as Tribune, McClatchy, and Media News Group – are owned, controlled, or indebted by hedge funds or private equity groups. According to a recent analysis by the Financial Times, hedge funds and other financial firms control half of the daily newspapers in the United States.
Check out the video above to find out what this means for the newspaper industry and what steps some editorial offices have taken to survive.