Nearly a year after The Daily Californian’s Editorial Board denounced extreme layoffs and buyouts of local newspapers, we’re doing it again. Last month, the East Bay Express laid off its entire editorial staff — except for one editor.
Now the paper’s editorial staff will be replaced by freelance writers — a decision that harms not only the stability of the paper, but also the diversity of its writers. And, unfortunately, this reflects a national trend.
Local newspapers in the United States are collapsing at an alarming rate, leaving many communities without essential news coverage. A study from the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism found that since 2004, more than one thousand communities across the country have lost all news coverage. National papers simply don’t have the means to cover the diversity and complexity of local issues in every region. And the decline of local papers disproportionately impacts communities that are already vulnerable — low income, rural areas with limited access to education, according to the study.