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The Chris Hedges Report with Pulitzer-prize winning former New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson on the collapse of journalism, the digital sewer and the new dark age.

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The media landscape in the U.S. is collapsing as journalism outlets at the national, state and local levels close or gut staff. One-third of the country’s newspapers have shut down and two-thirds of its newspaper journalists have lost jobs since 2005. An average of 2.5 newspapers closed each week in 2023, compared to two a week in 2022. The decimation of local news outlets is even worse, where papers are closing and layoffs have been nearly constant. In the last two decades nearly 3,000 of the country’s 9,000 newspapers have closed and 43,000 newspaper journalists have lost their jobs.

The bloodletting is only accelerating. Business Insider is eliminating 8 percent of its workforce. The Los Angeles Times recently laid off 120 journalists, more than 20 percent of the newsroom after cutting 74 newsroom positions last June. TIME magazine has announced impending layoffs. The Washington Post at the end of last year cut 240 jobs. Sports Illustrated has been gutted. CNN, NPR, Vice Media, Vox Media, NBC News, CNBC, and other organizations have all made huge staff cuts. The newspaper chain Gannett, which owns USA Today and many local papers, has cut hundreds of positions. The latest round of layoffs come on the heels of the worst job cuts in the journalism sector since 2020 when the Covid-19 crisis saw some 2,700 jobs eliminated.

The consumption of news and entertainment by the public in the digital age has turned many of the traditional media platforms into dinosaurs. But as they disappear, so does the core of journalism, reporting, especially investigative reporting. Digital platforms are, with a few exceptions, not sustaining reportorial coverage, certainty not on the local level, one of the fundamental pillars of democracy.

Advertising dollars, which once sustained the media industry, have migrated to digital platforms where advertisers are able to target with precision potential consumers. The monopoly that the old media had connecting sellers with buyers is gone. Social media and search giants, such as Google and Meta, snap up media content for free and disseminate it. Media outlets are often owned by private equity firms or billionaires that do not invest in journalism but harvest and hollow out the outlets for short term profits, accelerating the death spiral.

Journalism, at its best, makes the powerful accountable. But as media organizations decline and news deserts expand, the press, increasingly anemic, is also coming under attack from political demagogues and sites masquerading as news platforms. Fake news, misinformation, salacious rumors and lies fill void. Civil society is paying the price.

Joining me to discuss the crisis in journalism is Gretchen Morgenson, a senior financial reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.  She previously worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, where she won the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on Wall Street. Her latest book is “These are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs – and Wrecks – America.”

Thanks for supporting the Chris Hedges Report.

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