Abernathy, a noted expert on the national local news crisis, was the featured
presenter at a meeting of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Task Force
on Free Expression in the Digital Age held in New York City today.
Abernathy, a former executive at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, is
currently the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the
University of North Carolina.
She spoke about the historical
relevance of local newspapers, which are disappearing at an alarming rate.
also discussed her research on private equity firms buying news organizations and
the rise of so-called “news deserts” that are formed when communities have limited
access to credible and comprehensive information that feed democracy at the
looking at a potential collapse of the local news ecosystem, which has huge
implications for our democracy,” Abernathy said. “The data has shown repeatedly
that especially in small and mid-size communities, local newspapers tend to be
prime, if not (the) sole source, of news and information.”
has found that nearly 200 U.S. counties have no newspaper at all, and upwards
of 1,500 have only one.
Co-Chair David E. McCraw, deputy general counsel of the New York Times, called
Abernathy “one of the nation’s foremost experts on the demise of local
journalism,” and said her testimony and research will be an “invaluable asset”
as members consider recommendations for addressing this crisis.
To view over
260 interactive maps to see if you live in a “news desert,” and to see where
newspapers have disappeared and what efforts have been made to fill the void, click
meeting was livestreamed on social media and other web platforms, continuing
NYSBA’s commitment to enabling public participation in its efforts to address
this and other complex issues facing the state. Click here to watch the panel meeting in full.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar
Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since
1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the
legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers
through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
Contact: Brendan Kennedy