Wash. Post's Margaret Sullivan: The diminishment of local and regional newspapers “is the biggest crisis we have in journalism right now”

Sullivan: Chains and corporations buying local newspapers means they “are not owned by people in their own communities any longer”

From the February 4 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Is there a link between behind-the-scenes chaos and tension at a big publisher, and the bankruptcies we're seeing at smaller newspapers?

MARGARET SULLIVAN (WASH. POST MEDIA COLUMNIST):I mean, they're two signs of the crisis in local and regional news. Certainly, the takeover of these -- the Los Angeles Times was owned for a long time by the Chandler family and it has a storied, a really legendary history of great journalism and 44 Pulitzer Prizes. I think the thing that ties these two situations together is that the ownership of newspapers in cities has gone to big corporations. In some cases, to equity funds. In some cases to big chains. That doesn't mean that every chain is evil, but it does mean that in general, newspapers are not owned by people in their own communities any longer. And that's a bad thing.

STELTER: And meanwhile, digital is gobbling up the ad dollars, Google and Facebook are taking over more and more power. It means that print is continuing to decline. And you say this is the biggest story in journalism today, the decline of these local papers. What do we do?

SULLIVAN: Well, I do. I think this is the biggest crisis we have in journalism right now. It might not be the most visible crisis, because you're not really seeing papers go out of business. You're seeing papers be diminished. And that is where most of the local reporting is being done. I don't know what the answer is. I think it's starting to get more attention now from philanthropic organizations and from people who can start to make a difference. But we're very far, really 10 years or more down the road of real diminishment. And it's a huge problem.


CNN: What went wrong at the Los Angeles Times?


2017 was a disastrous year for local news