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Journalism in crisis

Smaller staffs and tighter budgets don’t preclude terrific reporting. But with stronger support comes the ability to do more ambitious, in-depth coverage.

“It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now.”

Susan Albright
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
Susan Albright
That’s how the Poynter Institute began its latest updating of press cutbacks, layoffs, furloughs and closings. It noted that both the Duluth News Tribune and the Forum of Fargo/Moorhead had cut to two print days a week and now use the mail instead of carriers — and that the Star Tribune “has had four days of furloughs in both quarter two and quarter three” for some employees. Those items were just a tiny part of an exhaustive nationwide list.

For me, the pileup of bad news about the news is heartbreaking. During my career I have done stints at four metropolitan daily newspapers. Two of them have since died; the others are carrying on, but with much smaller newsrooms these days.

Smaller staffs and tighter budgets don’t preclude terrific reporting. But with stronger support comes the ability to do more ambitious, in-depth coverage. And that is important during election time, when people need to know who’s running, what they’re saying — and what they’ve actually done. It’s especially important when misinformation and disinformation can spread through social media like wildfire.

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