News deserts are ominous to democracy, but how many there are and how fast they’re spreading has been a mystery — until now: Coverage of at least 900 communities across the nation has gone dry since 2004, preliminary new data shows.
The alarming data also confirms the view that less-than-affluent communities, where local economies and civic health may already be stumbling, are likelier to have become news deserts: places where little or no original reporting is done, where people have trouble finding out what’s going in local government and other institutions that affect their lives and citizenship decisions.
When the term news desert first entered the future-of-journalism discourse seven years ago, it seemed to be a relatively sunny metaphor.
But as fake news and partisan attacks have made the media landscape ever more toxic, the sinister side of the metaphor has become clearer: Deserts not only produce nothing nutritious for people, they also attract snakes, scorpions, vultures and cactuses armed with prickles.
Most fake news is about national politics but now smaller-scale deceptive efforts like the Tennessee Star are taking root in several states; Politico describes the Star as one of several new online publications dressed up as traditional newspapers that in reality are mini-Breitbarts “aimed at influencing local politics by stepping into the coverage void left by the collapsing finances of local newspapers.”
“Democracy itself demands that we find ways to build new and healthy
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/news/new-data-tracks-how-fast-news-deserts-are-spreading