May 5, 2019

50% of newspapers in the U.S. could be gone by 2021

Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Half of the surviving U.S. newspapers will be gone by 2021, Nicco Mele, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, tells the Wall Street Journal.

Driving the news: The Times-Picayune of New Orleans laid off its entire staff after being sold to its rival New Orleans Advocate.

The big picture: Many local papers have already folded after failing to transition print customers into paying digital subscribers. With the resources to spend on digital experiments, national papers like the Washington Post and New York Times have become the exception, while local outlets' ad sales have largely been sucked up by Google and Facebook.

  • "Nearly 1,800 newspapers closed between 2004 and 2018, leaving 200 counties with no newspaper and roughly half the counties in the country with only one, according to a University of North Carolina study" reported by the Journal.
  • Mid-sized papers with circulations between 100,000 and 200,000 have been hurt the most as a result of their inability to weather high publishing costs as print ads have disappeared, per the WSJ's analysis. Online ads are a fraction of the price of print ads.
  • Consolidation has become the answer for some mid-sized and smaller papers. Gannett Co. now has the largest newspaper chain by circulation — 6.9 million.

The bottom line: The loss of local newspapers creates "news deserts," with Americans less informed on the issues that matter to their region. Many turn to national news sources like cable news to understand national politics, often driving greater political polarization.

Go deeper: Rural areas are hardest hit by the death of American newspapers

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Concern about President Trump's tariffs on U.S imports grew to record high levels among Americans last month, particularly as more lost their jobs and concern about the novel coronavirus increased.

Driving the news: About seven in 10 people said they were at least somewhat concerned about tariffs in March, according to the latest survey from CivicScience provided first to Axios.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

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Why it matters: State officials have stressed that lockdowns must continue even if cities begin to see slight improvements from social distancing. Several hot spots, including New York, New Orleans, and Detroit, are expected to peak in the coming days.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
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