In the collective imaginary of the U.S. as a first world democracy, the local press appears as one of the fundamental pillars that has made it possible. However, there have been local newspapers, which are suffering most the changes produced by the emergence of digital. Its decline has been deeply studied for years, among others, by the Center for innovation and sustainability of the local media of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose conclusions are reflected in the study The expandings news desert, and which makes clear the gradual desertification of the local information in USA. Since 2004, we have closed around 1,800 local media, of which more than 60 correspond to daily, the rest weekly. In parallel, readers of the written press fall at an even greater rate. In the past 15 years, the overall circulation daily has gone from 122 million to 73 million.

the disappearance of The tissue that configures the local press has countless consequences, and one of the most relevant has to do with the current scenario of the misinformation. As is stated in the report: “In an era of fake news and the politics of division, the fate of communities around the country and democracy itself is linked to the vitality of the journalism local”. And is that newspapers in general, but more specifically the local, involved in the creation of an identity in a community that promotes social cohesion and political activism. Ron Heifetz, professor, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy, defined the newspaper as “an anchor” because it is “fixed on a daily basis the collective identity of the community, what interests us and unites us, as well as the lessons learned from our shared history”.

Traditionally, in the anglo-saxon world the local media have had a close consideration to the public service. In the report The Information needs of communities conducted in 2011 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, in its acronym in English) so noted. The same was considered that the local media contributed to “shed light on the major problems faced by the citizens, providing them with the information they need to solve them”. So much so that a recent article of The Washington Post sounded the alarm that the crisis of journalism in the local has become a risk for the substance of democracy, and advocated at the same time to deepen the model of public service to avoid it. Furthermore, the participation of non-profit organizations as Report for America subsidize local media so they can incorporate more journalists to their editorial offices, taking charge of part of their salary; in addition to support other volunteer initiatives in schools, as is the participation of journalists in the creation of school newspapers, or podcast.

on the other hand, it should be noted that the press of proximity has traditionally operated as a control of the local governments, forcing them to be accountable. In addition according to the Assessing Local Journalism, “the emptiness of the local scene is being filled by media more partisan and less transparent”. When this control disappears, increase the possibilities of corruption. To a large extent, we can say that the devaluation of journalism has been a result of declining resources in newsrooms, as a result of the transformation of the business. In the above-mentioned report, the FCC also emphasizes the impact that have had layoffs of journalists, specifically in the significant decrease in the number and depth of coverage of interest to the community. By way of example, The Baltimore Sun occurred between 1999 and 2009, a 32% less information, this percentage rises to 73% if we go back to 1991, according to a study by the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism. Of more recent publication is the report Assessing Local Journalism of the Dewitt Center at Duke University that also analyzes how the cuts and layoffs have had an impact on the worsening of the quality of local hedges, in such a way that less than half of the news provided by the local media of the US are original. Only 17 % is “truly local”, that is to say, they are events that have taken place within the city or town.

The difficulties of digital business local

From the point of view of the business, the local press is not immune to the problems affecting the press in general, being at the same crossroads: a traditional model that is crumbling but the new finish to be strengthened. The fall of the movement printed, has led to the collapse of the traditional Betmatik advertising, focusing directly on the possibility of generating community, as the media have existed, in great measure, due to the publicity of closeness that promotes local trade and proximity, fundamental also in the new circular economy.

For all this, it is necessary that the local media are the path to economic viability. The current advertising ecosystem requires large audiences and strong investments in specialised resources and technology. For local media, which have been nurtured advertisers small and of proximity, it is even more pressing, yes it is, that for the rest of the sector bet by a sustainable business model. But, while it is true that digital subscriptions will not compensate for the fall in the circulation of traditional, it seems inevitable that the headwaters regional bet for this alternative pathway. According to the data of Des Moines, currently sold 48.000 copies printed daily, being able to reach the 87.000 on a Sunday, which represents a decline from 2016 from 27 % in just 24 months; however, digital subscriptions have increased in the same period, passing of the 4,100 to 6,000.

“In an era of fake news and the politics of division, the fate of communities around the country and democracy itself is linked to the vitality of journalism in the local

In the united STATES. the large chains of local media are exploring new ways to contain the rapid fall of the revenue in paper and increase, in turn, the number of readers to the editions online and digital subscribers. Such is the case of Gannett, with a presence in 109 cities in the united STATES. During the past elections to legislative, decided not to offer the results in their printed versions. Dedicated the printed edition of analysis and evaluation, and the stories and anecdotes of the election day, facilitating the quantitative results comprehensive real-time into your digital edition. Your goal is to drive the subscribers are also the digital sand they would save printing costs. However, there are doubts about the ultimate effect of such a strategy as Gannett, like other companies of local newspapers, have a hearing very aged -about a third of its subscribers printed have 70 years or more – meaning that they are less likely to be passed on to your digital edition.

In this context is fundamental to the proposal of a differential value of each header to be successful in the recruitment and retention of subscribers, also what is the investment in technology and resources to highly specialized. Nancy Lane, President of the Association of Local Media in the USA, after analyzing different models of success as The Star Tribune, Spirited Media, The Denver Post and The Buffalo News, believes that “it is underestimated the importance of the investment that is required in technology for the increase of subscriptions.”

the Antidote to the misinformation

Although the media in general have suffered a loss of confidence, in local newspapers, according to the Poll, the Media Trust of Poynter 2018, have been less affected in comparison with the rest. Journalists still maintain the proximity with the readers and their sources, something that big media have lost. Data collected, again by the Pew Research Center, show that there is a direct relationship between the civic engagement of a community and the habits of consumption of local news. That is to say, those citizens are more politically active, participating in volunteer and which relate more to their fellow citizens, are more likely to use and appreciate the local news that those who are less engaged with the rest of the community.

These data agree with the study conducted by the Agora Journalism Center of the University of Oregon that is incident on this line: 2the journalism local not only plays an important monitoring role but also plays a critical role in helping to create and define a sense of community, the best way to avoid polarization. Thanks to the proximity, to the knowledge and analysis more real-the environment, the journalism of attachment is more conducive to contrasting arguments, and to combat fake news”. Let’s take note of.

Pepe Cherry is the director of Evokes Media