Why democracy falters without local news

Is that a fact?

Oct 28 2020 • 35 mins

Our guest this week is Gilbert Bailon, the editor-in-chief of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Our host spoke to Bailon about the importance of local news to American democracy. Local news organizations have been gutted in recent years, leaving communities across the country with little to no coverage and stripping them of their watchdogs. What are the consequences for American democracy and why should everyday Americans care?

Bailon joined the Post-Dispatch as editorial page editor in 2007 and then in 2012, became the paper’s editor. Before that, he was executive director of the Dallas Morning News and the founding editor and publisher of Al Dia, a daily Spanish-language newspaper owned by the Dallas Morning News. He has served as president of the American Society of News Editors, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and Unity Journalists of Color.

By some estimates, 1,300 communities across the country now have no local news outlet at all, leaving them with no independent oversight of local government and corporate activities. Some cities, such as Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Youngstown lost their daily newspapers, while some papers like the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that used to provide award-winning, robust local coverage, are now operating on a shoestring with reduced staffs.