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Is The Loss of Local Journalism Endangering American Democracy?

Defending American Democracy event series
Join us for a conversation with leaders in the field of journalism as they speak about how to revive local news media

Local journalism has long been a pillar of American democracy. However, newsrooms across the country have shuttered leaving many communities without local news outlets. There is a movement to help revive local media, but is it too little too late? Many American have already changed their habits and tune into national news media and social media to get their news. How can Americans again regain trust in local media outlets to strengthen American democracy?

This panel is part of the Defending American Democracy series with support from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.




Emily Woodruff – Report for America Corps Member at The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

Ms. Woodruff covers healthcare and public health in south Louisiana, with a focus on the New Orleans metro region for the The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate. Emily reports to the New Orleans Metro Editor and Managing Editor and covers daily news related to all aspects of public health, including coverage of hospitals, public health officials and health agencies, academic research, and city, state, and national data. She produces enterprise and feature stories for print and online related to these and other related topics. Emily works in concert with journalists who have complementary beats, such as education, business, and City Hall, to create stories that have a broader impact. Emily has been the managing health editor of Being Patient, a health news start-up exclusively covering brain health and Alzheimer’s. Currently, there is not a single, full-time health reporter working for any newsroom in Louisiana, a state that sits near the bottom on nearly every U.S. public health metric. The story of healthcare is also often the story of poverty in America, and the lack of coverage of health in a poor state like Louisiana means important stories are slipping through the cracks. As a freelancer, her work has appeared in STAT News, The Baltimore Sun, Gothamist and Refinery29. Earlier she worked as a copywriter and an SEO specialist. She majored in English at the University of Florida in Gainesville and received an M.S. from the Columbia University School of Journalism.”

Erica Beshears Perel – Director, UNC’s Center for Innovation and Sustainabilty in Local Media

Erica Beshears Perel is the director of the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Having spent two decades in the news industry — as a reporter, educator and executive — change has been the constant, as news has become increasingly digital and traditional revenue sources have shifted.She graduated from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media in 1998 and worked in local news for about 10 years before returning to campus to work on the professional staff at The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s independent student newspaper. Full Bio Here.

Representative Todd Novak – Wisconsin State Assembly

Born and raised on a family farm in Cobb, Wisconsin, and a lifelong resident of Iowa County, Todd is seeking a fourth term in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Prior to serving in the State Assembly, Todd worked as an Associate Editor and the Dodgeville Chronicle. Currently serving as the Mayor of Dodgeville, Todd has notable experience in local politics with a strong record of standing up for the priorities of those who live in Southwest Wisconsin. Todd is also the father of two teenage boys whom he adopted out of the foster care system as teenagers. He continues to serve as a court appointed guardian and has a strong record of standing up vulnerable populations. Full Bio Here.


Steve Waldman – President & CEO, Report for America

Steve is the President and Co-Founder of Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. He crafted the plan for it after authoring the Federal Communications Commission landmark report “Information Needs of Communities,” which NPR described as “one of the most comprehensive overviews of the U.S. media ever produced.” An experienced entrepreneur, he co-founded the multi-faith religion website, which won the National Magazine Award, and, a platform for online memorials. Earlier, he was National Editor of U.S. News & World Report and National Correspondent for Newsweek. He was Senior Advisor to the CEO of the Corporation for National Service and wrote a book on the creation of AmeriCorps called “The Bill.” He’s also the author of the national bestseller, “Founding Faith.” Steve is on the Board of Directors of The GroundTruth Project. Full Bio Here.

Feb 18, 2022
12:00pm ET