Death of the Daily News: How Citizen Gatekeepers Can Save Local Journalism (Hardcover)
The City of McKeesport in southwestern Pennsylvania once had a population of more than fifty thousand people and a newspaper that dated back to the nineteenth century. Technology has caused massive disruption to American journalism, throwing thousands of reporters out of work, closing newsrooms, and leaving vast areas with few traditional news sources—including McKeesport. With the loss of their local paper in 2015, residents now struggle to make sense of what goes on in their community and to separate facts from gossip—often driven by social media. The changes taking place in this one Pennsylvania community are being repeated across the United States as hundreds of local newspapers close, creating news deserts and leaving citizens with little access to reliable local journalism. The obituary for local news, however, does not have to read all bad: Even in the bleakest places, citizens are discovering what happens in their communities and becoming gatekeepers to information for the people around them. In McKeesport, citizens are attempting to make sense of the news on their own, for better and worse. This experiment not only offers clues about what happens after a local newspaper dies, but also provides guidance to the way forward.
Andrew Conte founded the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, which serves as a laboratory for the present and future of local journalism. He previously worked as an investigative journalist, and he has authored several nonfiction books.
“In its argument that local journalism is vital, and that there are ways for it to survive in the new media landscape, Death of the Daily News usefully contributes to the discussion.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Conte exposes the weaknesses of both traditional top-down journalism and the ‘citizen gatekeepers’ who have since filled the breach, while arguing that the answer resides in the public truly understanding the value of knowing about their community. . . A lifeline for communities who have lost, or are in danger of losing, their local papers.” —Booklist
“The tragic loss of local newspapers would be a depressing read in anyone else’s hands. But in Death of the Daily News, Andrew Conte brilliantly takes us from life to death and back to life again, leaving the reader with hope that local news can rise again. Supremely well written, tremendously insightful, and remarkably hopeful.” —Chris Shipley, curator for Newsgeist
“What happens when local news dies in a community? Versions of this disturbing story are happening everywhere in America, as ‘news deserts’ proliferate at a rapid pace. But the societal consequences are still not well understood. This troubling story is well told by Andrew Conte in Death of the Daily News, a searching and deeply reported look at what happened after the newspaper in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, went under in 2015. A longtime reporter with deep experience in local and national news, Conte approaches his subject perceptively and with empathy, even as he sounds the alarm about communities increasingly in trouble. This is a powerful, wise, and worthwhile study of a crucial topic.” —Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for the Washington Post and author of Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy
“Death of the Daily News, which examines the impact of losing a local paper in a small town in Pennsylvania, is a very timely read, cleverly organized around the stages of grief, and written in compelling prose that will make the book accessible to ordinary citizens as well as scholars.” —Penelope Muse Abernathy, author of Saving Community Journalism and The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur