New local nonprofit newsroom leaders discuss state of Greater Cleveland media landscape

On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss two new local nonprofit newsrooms coming to cover the Northeast Ohio community. [Allison Seib/shutterstock]
On the "Sound of Ideas," we discuss two new local nonprofit newsrooms coming to cover the Northeast Ohio community. [Allison Seib/shutterstock]
Featured Audio

It's been pretty well established that there's a crisis in local journalism. It's been going on for the past few decades, as most people have stopped buying physical newspapers, instead getting their news online or through social media, where the advertising revenue typically goes to companies like Google and Facebook, not to a local news site. 

Between 2008 and 2019, newsroom employment fell 51 percent. Since 2004, more than 1800 local newspapers across the country, have closed. And like so many other things, the problem was exacerbated during the pandemic. 

Why does this matter? With fewer reporters at local school board meetings, at city hall, and inside courtrooms, research shows that there's been an increase in corruption, fewer competitive elections, and more municipal waste. 

Put another way, there are fewer eyes holding decision makers accountable. 

A 2019 report from Policy Matters revealed that Ohio has 32% fewer newspapers than it did in 2004. But even that report is outdated, as the next year, legacy media outlet, The Plain Dealer, closed its newsroom after a round of crippling buyouts and layoffs. Cleveland.com reporters began writing for both entities, and the paper itself is only home-delivered, four days a week.   

Some outlets, including Ideastream Public Media, increased staff, though by no where near the numbers of journalists lost in this transitory time.  But there is change on the horizon, two non-profit newsrooms are starting up in Cleveland, which could give new life to regional journalism. 

The Marshall Project is starting it's first ever local news team here in Cleveland. The focus will be criminal-justice reporting. Also, the American Journalism Project has created a Cleveland digital newsroom, The Ohio Local News Initiative.

This hour on the "Sound of Ideas," we'll start by talking to the new heads of those organizations, each of whom was just announced last week, about the state of local news, and about efforts to cover important stories in the region. 

Joining the conversation is the new editor-in-chief of the Marshall Project's Cleveland team Jim Crutchfield, and the new Cleveland editor-in-chief for the Ohio Local News Initiative, Lila Mills.

Later in the hour, we shift gears and look at how drug treatment efforts are evolving, from overdose prevention sites, to fentanyl test strips. We'll discuss what treatment advocates are pushing now.

Guests: 

-Lila Mills, Cleveland editor-in-chief, Ohio Local News Initiative
-Jim Crutchfield, Editor-in-chief, The Marshall Project, Cleveland
-Daniel Lettenberger-Klein, Chief Executive Officer, Stella Maris 
-Joan Papp, MD, Medical Director, Office of Opioid Safety, MetroHealth 

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