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Losing newspapers in state continues

When newspapers close, communities lose and democracy declines.

It is happening in Washington state. A new study by the League of Women Voters of Washington is blunt: “Local newspapers are in crisis.” Since 2004 over 25 weeklies and three dailies have closed, roughly 20% of the state’s newspapers.

The impact on communities – readers and nonreaders – is significant. Citizens are “experiencing an explosion of mis- and disinformation, creating significant challenges for public health officials and others. Coverage of government agencies and elected officials in Washington has dropped significantly, as well.”

The report, “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy,” echoes national studies, finding with newspaper closures a “the loss of the souls of communities and the glue that holds communities together. When newspapers close voter participation drops. There is “less community engagement and greater political partisanship.”

“This is not a journalism problem. It’s a democracy problem,” concludes Benjamin Shors, from Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

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