Death of the Daily News
The oldest college daily in the United States, the Yale Daily News (YDN) has been the primary source of news and debate at Yale since 1878. Its student editors, writers, and contributors have gone on to prominent careers in journalism and public life, including William F. Buckley, Lan Samantha Chang, John Hersey, Joseph Lieberman, Sargent Shriver, Strobe Talbott, and Calvin Trillin. In addition, YDN is known for the Yale Daily News Historical Archive, a collection of digitized issues from its 160-year history that is available to readers worldwide.
In Death of the Daily News, author Andrew Conte chronicles a small American community’s struggles to make sense of local news after its newspaper went out of business in 2015. Across America, versions of this story are playing out as technology has disrupted the industry, resulting in the closure of thousands of newspapers, creating “news deserts” where residents have little access to traditional local journalism. Conte offers a profoundly perceptive and thoughtful anatomy of these changes—in both the top-down, professionally oriented journalism that used to serve as the backbone of local media and the burgeoning network of citizen gatekeepers who have filled the void.
At its peak in the 1920s, the New York City-based Daily News was one of the highest-circulation dailies in the world. The tabloid attracted readers with sensational crime and scandal stories, lurid photographs, and cartoons. It was also a leader in investigative reporting and was a pioneer in using wirephoto to cover events around the globe.
Today, as the newspaper struggles with declining readership and declining advertising revenues, it faces another crisis: a takeover by cost-slashing hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Staffers are being reassigned, buyouts have been offered, and a printing plant has been outsourced as the company attempts to save itself from financial ruin.
As a result of these and other forces, many daily newspapers have been forced to shrink and shed staff. And as a result, the country is now more divided than ever, with large segments of the population missing vital information about their communities.
Despite these challenges, there are signs that the decline of local journalism may be turning a corner. In the wake of the recent upheaval in media, some publishers are exploring innovative ways to provide local news—including hyperlocal digital outlets and local television news. Others are experimenting with ways to keep their doors open and stay relevant in a changing media landscape. Death of the Daily News is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of journalism and its impact on democracy. It offers a blueprint for the future of local news and a glimpse into what happens when a town loses its paper.