According to the studies of the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media from de University of Carolina, a lot of local newspaper has closed in the US since 2004.
It is not news to anyone that the media are having a world crisis because the economic model that sustained them is no longer profitable.
For a long long time, publicity was the great support of the media, which paid to put their advertising in media such as the newspaper, since it was the only way to reach the masses. With the arrival of the internet and social networks, that is over and advertising no longer depends on the media.
On the other hand, when the media moved to the internet, they did it for free and people got used to having unpaid information. So, we have no publicity and no subscribers. But in the last years, the media have tried to change the way people see information, understanding that quality content has to be paid. Are people willing to pay?
I’m from Chile, in the Southwest corner of the continent and one thing that really caught my attention is the importance of local media in the US. In my country, we don’t have states with different rules according to where you live. The laws are the same for all Chilean people, so I believe that makes local journalism even more crucial in the US than in Chile.
I spoke with M.L. Elrick, journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 2009 for telling a story of lies and corruption about the mayor of Detroit that was published in the Detroit Free Press. Now he work for a television station, but he said he is concerned about the situation.
I also had the opportunity also to visit the WKAR radio. It was very impressive for me to know that the sustenance derives from donations from the audience because, according to what was said by their anchors, the reason listeners collaborate is an understanding that quality content needs money to maintain itself. In Chile, almost 100% of the media, whether written, TV or radio, are commercial, so it is very interesting to see the public model in the US.
The news director, Reginald Hardwick, talked to me about how the local radios are filling the empty that once occupied local newspapers.