Diverse Media Outlets Appear in U.S. “News Deserts”

A culmination of issues such as an economic downfall in newspapers and lack of access to digital news have caused efforts from emerging ethnic news outlets to fill the void. This void is known as a news desert, a term defined by Axios as an area where local newspapers have folded and communities have no coverage. These areas endanger the critical role that the press plays in dispersing accurate news coverage and encouraging a democracy.

There are many consequences of a news desert. Communities whose voices are less amplified are only reported on when something worthy of negative press occurs. In the past, systemic racism has played a strong role in prominent media organizations with the leverage to control the narrative.  Cheryl Thompson-Morton, director of CUNY’s Black Media Initiative expands on the documented history of news discrimination.

Some news organizations simply refused to cover most of the civil rights movement or didn’t run that news on the front page — so many readers didn’t know what was happening.

Ethnic news publishers have slowly appeared over time since the 1800’s in efforts to counter the status quo. Despite historically facing backlash, there has been an increase in new ethnic outlets, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Emerging digital technologies provide access and ease for new publishers seeking to found their own channels for news. These upstarts cater to communities that are often neglected in media, and are growing with friction. Yet, the need for community support is evident being that the news desert remains in many underserved areas.

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