Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As local newspapers continue to fall off the map, digital-first websites are cropping up to cover local communities.

Why it matters: About a third of large U.S. newspapers have suffered layoffs since 2017, according to a new study from Pew Research Center. Web-based news outlets are starting to help fill that void, local news publishing executives say.

For example, Local Independent Online New Publishers (LION), a trade organization, has seen its membership double in the past years to 225 members, said Executive Director Matt DeRienzo. The Institute for Nonprofit News has experienced similar growth.

On top of that, DeRienzo says that the trade group has a database of more than 600 local online news sites that would qualify for membership to LION, meaning they have been evaluated as doing real journalism and are independent.

"We come across new ones every day and every week — ones that have been operating for years in tiny communities that we didn't even know about."
— Matt DeRienzo

Newspaper layoffs have accelerated over the past year as Canadian print tariffs continue to strangle local presses, and as economic pressures from tech companies continue to squeeze ad dollars from legacy news organizations.

  • On Monday, New York Daily News announced it's letting go of roughly half of its editorial team. Other Tronc-owned newspapers, like The Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune, are also expected to experience some layoffs, CNN reports.

The Local Media Consortium — which represents dozens of local papers and media companies, like The Seattle Times, The McClatchy Company and Cox Media Group — also says that it's seeing record growth for digital websites of newspapers, some of which are downsizing in print.

  • The group's member websites showed year-over-year growth from from 2016 to 2017 in two key areas: Sellable ad impressions were up 36%, and pageviews were up 17%.
"We're continuing to see growth in subscribers consuming the papers' content online."
Fran Wills, CEO of Local Media Consortium

Local banner advertising revenue for LMC members (generated through the LMC Ad Exchange/Auction Package) has increased over 100% in the last three years, according to  2017 vs. 2016 LMC membership self-reported numbers audited by the Alliance for Audited Media.

Rise of niche, local sites: Wills says there are also a lot of local websites creating hyper-local news around certain interest areas, like sports and entertainment. In the past, some of these sites would only be represented in perhaps a small newspaper section, now they can become entire entities. For example:

  • is a niche sports site created by Cox Media Group for UGA football fans in Atlanta/Athens, GA.
  • is a niche dining/entertainment site created by The Dallas Morning News in Dallas.
  • HS Sportsday: is a niche high school sports site created by The Dallas Morning News in Dallas.

Bottom line: While these efforts can't fully replace the thousands of journalists being displaced from local newsrooms across the country, they are helping small communities access local news and information and, in some cases, are able to take coverage of certain topics or communities to the next level.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 31,778,331 — Total deaths: 974,436 — Total recoveries: 21,876,025Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,943,078 — Total deaths: 201,930 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: CDC director says over 90% of Americans have not yet been exposed to coronavirus — Supply shortages continue to plague testing.
  4. Politics: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tests positive for coronavirus — Poll says 51% of Republicans trust Trump on coronavirus more than the CDC.
  5. Technology: The tech solutions of 2020 may be sapping our resolve to beat the coronavirus
  6. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson begins large phase 3 trial — The FDA plans to toughen standards.
  7. Sports: Less travel is causing the NBA to see better basketball.
  8. Future: America's halfway coronavirus response

Biden: Breonna Taylor indictment "does not answer" call for justice

Former Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the grand jury indictment of a Louisville police officer who entered Breonna Taylor's home in March in a botched drug raid that led to her death, saying in a statement the decision "does not answer" for equal justice.

The big picture: Biden called for reforms to address police use of force and no-knock warrants, while demanding a ban on chokeholds. He added that people "have a right to peacefully protest, but violence is never acceptable."

Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses

President Trump repeatedly refused to say on Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election to Joe Biden, saying at a press briefing: "We're going to have to see what happens."

The big picture: Trump has baselessly claimed on a number of occasions that the only way he will lose the election is if it's "rigged," claiming — without evidence — that mail-in ballots will result in widespread fraud. Earlier on Wednesday, the president said he wants to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he believes the Supreme Court may have to decide the result of the election.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!