How Local Libraries are Fighting the Community News Crisis

Local news is facing a crisis… at a time when trusted coverage of the events in this country and our world is more critical than ever.

“It has simply become uneconomic to provide news to [communities] based on the business model of the past, but that doesn’t mean that the people who live there still don’t want the bonds of shared experience that local news and information can provide,” writes Kevin Anderson in What’s New in Publishing.

Many communities are taking matters into their own hands, with support coming from local libraries taking a more active in role as information hubs for local news.

“Dave Beard, formerly of the Washington Post and Public Radio International, has been following this trend for years. And he has highlighted a number of these projects from the Black Hills of South Dakota to New Hampshire to San Antonio, Texas,” Anderson explains.

Projects range from a four-page weekly published by Mike Sullivan, a librarian in Weare, NH to a group of college interns in San Antonio that are mapping local news resources and publishing local stories.

“It’s about empowering the community with information, enlightening the community with knowledge, so that members of our community can make their decisions, smart decisions, for themselves,” San Antonio library director Ramiro Salazar said.

The idea is gaining traction, as the local news crisis deepens.

“In Charlotte, North Caroline, public radio station WFAE, the local library and the Digital Public Library of America have partnered on a project with support from Report for America,” Anderson writes.

As we all head out of the lockdown and straight into what’s going to be an incredibly divisive national election, community news is vital. Many of the problems being argued on the national stage can find solutions only in the local elections that are so vital to American democracy.

Is your community prepared to offer the kind of information that will help us make informed decisions?