Diane McFarlin, the dean of the journalism school at the University of Florida, told me this week, “this is very much at risk these days.”
Academic studies have found a raft of problems to be associated with a decline of local journalism, as The Columbia Journalism Review has detailed. The problems include less informed voters, lower voter turnout and higher borrowing costs for local governments — because, without anyone to hold them accountable, those governments become less responsible.
Much of it involves what David Kurpius, the University of Missouri’s journalism dean, calls “the watchdog function.” Kurpius told me: “Local journalism helps describe the fabric of a community that gives a sense of place. In some ways, it is how we know our neighbors and fellow citizens.”