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1,300 US Communities Have No Daily News Coverage As Newspaper Industry Continues Downward Spiral

An estimated 1,300 U.S. communities have lost news coverage as the newspaper industry continues on its downward spiral, according to a study by the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism released Monday.

“The whole news food chain starts with daily newspapers,” Seattle Times reporter Mike Rosenberg wrote on Twitter Tuesday in response to the study.

Roughly 20 percent of the country’s metro and community newspapers have stopped their presses or merged with other newspapers since 2004, according to Poynter. That’s a decrease from approximately 9,000 newspapers to a little more than 7,000.

Penelope Muse Abernathy directed the study and is the Knight chair in journalism and digital media economics at UNC.

“Trust and credibility suffer when local news media are lost or diminished,” reads a quote from Abernathy in the study’s report. “We need to make sure that whatever replaces the 20th century version of local newspapers serves the same community-building functions.”

Online news sites have cropped up to fill the gaps left by disappearing newspapers, but those sites often have trouble attracting funding or enough visitors to be self-sufficient, according to the study. The sites also tend to focus on metropolitan and suburban areas.