Lawfare News

TechTank: Reclaiming Local News in the Age of the Internet

Nicol Turner Lee
Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 10:49 AM
The latest episode of TechTank.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The consumption of news and other media have been essential to the history of the United States. News has progressively evolved in both the delivery and perception of various news content. The internet has further expanded the aggregating, posting, and sharing of news through social media and other web-based tools, including podcasts and videos. But the internet has resulted in deleterious consequences for traditional local media, including the erosion of the quality of investigative and fact-based journalism, and blows to the business models of traditional and local media channels. The Rebuild Local News coalition found, on average, two newspapers shut down per week in the United States and the number of newsrooms employees have also declined by 57% since 2004. Newspaper advertising has also been greatly affected in the age of the internet, including an 81% decline in revenue since 2000, or $40 billion collectively. More than 1,800 communities across the United States are without a local news media, making the internet the most reliable source for news consumption.

Further, some have argued that the online sphere has given way to increased mis- and dis-information due to false headlines and illegitimate news stories, combined with an aggregation of content generated by polarized individuals and communities. The increase in misinformation has generated consequences in both democratic and authoritarian societies leading to widespread skepticism of election integrity and social protests banding against what has been stated as truth. Artificial intelligence (AI) has also played a role in the current media ecosystem by amplifying messages that can distort what everyday people believe in, transforming news into the likeness of conspiracy theories. 

In this episode of the TechTank podcast, co-host and director of the Center for Technology Innovation, Nicol Turner Lee, speaks with Courtney Radsch, postdoctoral research fellow in UCLA’s Institute for Technology, Law, & Policy, and Steven Waldman, CEO and founder of Rebuild Local News. The discussion explores changes in the consumption of news media and the impact on both local news and consumers’ information awareness.

You can listen to the episode and subscribe to the TechTank podcast on AppleSpotify, or Acast.

Dr. Nicol Turner Lee is a senior fellow in Governance Studies, the director of the Center for Technology Innovation, and serves as Co-Editor-In-Chief of TechTank. Dr. Turner Lee researches public policy designed to enable equitable access to technology across the U.S. and to harness its power to create change in communities across the world. Her work also explores global and domestic broadband deployment and internet governance issues. She is an expert on the intersection of race, wealth, and technology within the context of civic engagement, criminal justice, and economic development.

Subscribe to Lawfare