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Backed Into a Corner: Structural Changes That Lead to Local News Deserts

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Abstract:  On the surface, it may look like there are no news deserts in the Czech Republic, but that does not mean that all audiences are able to get relevant local news. Apart from independent local news outlets, which are diminishing, Czech districts are served by information provided either by a delocalised publishing chain or a municipality press that promotes the local government. I will focus on the emergence of news deserts from the perspective of independent local newspapers, especially on the structural changes that lead to the declining number of media outlets that offer local news in Czechia. Moreover, I take the bottom-up approach to reflect on the local journalists’ point of view. The mixed-method research, which was conducted in 2019 and 2020, consisted of a survey of local newspaper owners and in-depth interviews with local journalists. I identified several structural changes to both the local newspapers and to the general publishing industry that have led to growing organisational and economic problems for the local newspapers, and often to their demise. Local news is still carried by newspapers, which depend on the traditional business model and are slow with their digital transition. Their survival is based on (non)cooperation with either ancillary organisations (printing office, distribution firm, and sales outlet) or other local newspapers. Newspapers are cornered by the demands of external actors; their economic stability depends on the self-sufficiency of their production.

Keywords:  entrepreneurial initiative; local journalists; local media; media cooperation; media infrastructure; news desert; newspapers’ self-sufficiency; structural changes

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v11i3.6731


© Lenka Waschková Císařová. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.