Impact: Who Pays for Local News?

Impact: Who Pays for Local News?

Innovation and new business models are needed to support sustainable local media that build trust and provide communities with relevant and useful information.

The Problem

The transition to digital environments has undermined the economic underpinnings of news organizations. While digital advertising revenue is steadily increasing overall, little is making its way to the local media organizations who employ journalists and create original news content. Individuals around the world are losing the news and information they need to make good choices for their families, to participate in their communities and hold their governments to account. In every country, local and community media is at risk. 

The Solution

Internews programs offer resources, tools, and peer-to-peer support for journalists, newsroom leaders and community groups looking to revitalize their local news and information ecosystems. Our mentoring and long-term support to local media partners strengthen their financial sustainability while increasing the quality of local journalism. Through the United for News coalition, led by Internews in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, we are working on solutions that direct a greater share of digital advertising dollars to trusted, local media.

Local Matters

A new Poynter Media Trust Survey found that trust in local media is high across the political spectrum. Trust in local outlets is significantly higher than in national television or newspapers, and much higher than online-only sources.

And while newsrooms are suffering – since 2004, 1400 cities or towns across the US have lost a newspaper – local newspapers are still considered the most significant journalism producers in communities, according to a recent survey by Nieman Lab.

Bar chart showing level in trust in local vs national news

Watch: Advertisers Broke Local News, Can They Fix It?

“In the U.S., which is the largest healthiest media market in the world, one in three people now live in what’s called a news desert – which is a place that has no local news anymore… And this is devastating for democracy and social cohesion.” – Jennifer Cobb, Executive Director of United for News

Watch a video: Jennifer Cobb talks about United for News and media sustainability at the Global Philanthropy Forum 2018.

Read: Summit Snapshot 19:DC: How Vital Ad Financing is to a Robust Fourth Estate – Brand Safety and a Future for News Gathering & Reporting

A man stands outside a building, reading a newspaper

In Focus: Creating Community Media in News Deserts

In 2018, a group of researchers at Duke set out to study the factors that contribute to news deserts — communities with little to no local news. Their research indicated that communities with large Latino populations were particularly likely to be underserved by local media. El Tímpano, a project supported by Internews’ Listening Post Collective, was developed to reach and engage Oakland’s Spanish-speaking residents with news, including by text. (Photo: Oakland, CA. Credit: Madeleine Bair)

Impact: Creativity, Cooperation Fuel Community Radio Business Models in Liberia

In Liberia, community radio is “king.” Internews works to help valued radio stations ensure their longevity, in the face of negligible advertising markets and unsustainable aid funding.

In Focus: Creative Advertising Boosts Subscribers to Investigative Reporting Outlets in Moldova

“In a country where the media is controlled by politicians and oligarchs, to make an independent investigative newspaper is a big challenge. And it is extremely hard to attract advertisers for it. That is why we tried to come up with creative marketing campaigns.”

More information

Information Ecosystem Assessments Help Local Communities Understand and Improve their Media Environment

Two women sit talking in a radio studio

In Eureka and Fresno, CA, Internews conducted assessments to to gain a deeper understanding of how people get local news and information, what sources they trust, what their priorities are, and how coverage of local issues impacts their ability to thrive. The goal is also to find out which communities are left out of the media or underrepresented. The information gathered will inform possible solutions to address information gaps, overlooked audiences and other issues related to news and media access.

“We need a lot more of that grassroots, really place-based information to be in the frontlines more often.” —Organizer Germán Quiñonez, Fresno

More about Eureka, CA's Information Ecosystem Assessment

More about Fresno, CA's Information Ecosystem Assessment

(Photo: Vila Xiong and Ka Shoua Thao are two of the four hosts of Gen X, a show aimed at younger listeners of KBIF 900 AM in Fresno)