News deserts — communities with limited access to credible and comprehensive news — are especially prevalent in rural America. More than 500 of the 1,800 newspapers that have closed or merged since 2004 were in rural communities, according to a 2018 report, “The Expanding News Desert,” written by Abernathy for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media.
Rural newspapers have been buffeted by the same headwinds facing newspapers in all areas. More Americans are consuming news digitally, typically turning to news aggregation sites and social media for information, instead of getting it from local media outlets.
Revenue from classified and other print ads has declined precipitously as advertisers have moved online to accommodate those changing habits
But the people with the least access to local news are rural residents, who are typically poorer and less educated than the average American.