A new study released Monday by the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism details the stark decline of newspapers in the U.S. and particularly in rural areas, where citizens are less educated, poorer and older.

Expand chart
Data: UNC School of Media and Journalism; Note: Investment firms include New Media/GateHouse, Digital First Media, CNHI, Civitas, tronc/Tribune, BH Media, 10/13 Communications; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: Because of the isolated nature of communities in which many papers have dissolved, "there is little to fill the void when the paper closes."

Between the lines: The report shows that the collapse of the newspaper industry, beginning around 2004, has been getting worse.

  • According to the study, newspaper sales and closures/mergers via the seven largest newspaper investment owners have increased over the past five years.
  • Major newspaper holding companies often aren't incentivized to invest for future growth opportunities, but rather to flip the papers to be profitable in the short-term, largely by cutting back on staff and resources.

By the numbers:

  • The largest 25 newspaper chains own a third of all newspapers, including two-thirds of the country’s 1,200 dailies.
  • There's been net loss since 2004 of almost 1,800 local newspapers. About 70% (1,300 papers) that closed or merged were in metro areas (suburbs).
  • Between 1,300 and 1,400 communities that had newspapers of their own in 2004 now have no dedicated news coverage.
  • Today, almost 200 counties (of the 3,143 total counties in the U.S.) have no newspaper.

Last year I caught up with Penny Abernathy, the report's author, who has been studying the economic decline of newspapers for years and asked her about the importance of newspapers in society. One quote that stuck out:

“A good newspaper shows you how you’re related to people you didn’t know you were related to. It gets you back to your sense of place."

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump says he will announce Supreme Court pick on Saturday

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that he plans to announce his Supreme Court pick on Saturday. He later told reporters that the announcement will come at 5 p.m.

Why it matters: Republicans are moving fast to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which would tilt the balance of the high court in conservatives' favor and have lasting impact on climate policy, immigration and the Affordable Care Act.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
42 mins ago - Economy & Business

Remote work won't kill your office

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We can officially declare the 9-to-5, five-days-a-week, in-office way of working dead. But offices themselves aren't dead. And neither are cities.

The big picture: Since the onset of pandemic-induced telework, companies have oscillated between can't-wait-to-go-back and work-from-home-forever. Now, it's becoming increasingly clear that the future of work will land somewhere in the middle — a remote/in-person hybrid.

FBI: Foreign actors likely to sow disinformation about delays in election results

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a public service announcement on Tuesday warning that mail-in ballots "could leave officials with incomplete results on election night," and that foreign actors are likely to spread disinformation about the delays.

The bottom line: The agencies called on the public to "critically evaluate the sources of the information they consume and to seek out reliable and verified information from trusted sources," including state and local election officials.

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!