Ghosting the News

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UPC: 9781733623780
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Author: Margaret Sullivan
  • Paperback: 105 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia Global Reports (July 14, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1733623787
  • ISBN-13: 978-1733623780
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.2 inches

An Epidemic of News Deserts and Ghost Papers

Ghosting the News tells the most troubling media story of our time: How democracy suffers when local news dies. From 2004 to 2015, 1,800 print newspaper outlets closed in the US. One in five news organizations in Canada has closed since 2008. One in three Brazilians lives in news deserts. The absence of accountability journalism has created an atmosphere in which indicted politicians were elected, school superintendents were mismanaging districts, and police chiefs were getting mysterious payouts. This is not the much-discussed fake-news problem--it's the separate problem of a critical shortage of real news.

America's premier media critic, Margaret Sullivan, charts the contours of the damage, and surveys a range of new efforts to keep local news alive--from non-profit digital sites to an effort modeled on the Peace Corps. No nostalgic paean to the roar of rumbling presses, Ghosting the News instead sounds a loud alarm, alerting citizens to a growing crisis in local news that has already done serious damage.


"Ghosting the News is a brisk and pointed tribute to painstaking, ordinary and valuable work." -- Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

"Margaret Sullivan has written one of the most timely books I've ever seen, about the biggest threat to democracy that no one is talking about. It's that rare book about journalism that regular folks need to read...short yet vital." -- Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"To write a book like Ghosting the News is to take on the challenge of proving a negative―to make a case for the urgency of the known unknown. Sullivan succeeds. Her book is an ink-bound alarm bell. The threat Americans face, she argues, is not just the news that lies. It is also the news that will never exist in the first place." -- Megan Garber, The Atlantic

"An important book....Sullivan is the perfect person to diagnose the problem." -- Sewell Chan, Los Angeles Times

"Sullivan aims to amplify the long-running alarm that local news media--entities core to local and national democracy--are in more trouble than ever. The greatest risk, she writes, is that local newspapers especially are on the verge of disappearing forever, which could have severe ramifications during time when fact-based reporting is under siege." --Fortune

"Insightful, sobering analysis of the modern news landscape." --Dale Singer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan's book about what happens to local democracy when local newsrooms shrivel couldn't be publishing at a better time." -- Dean Miller, Seattle Times

"Smart, tight and necessary...Sullivan's novella-length book is a siren in the night." Rick Holmes, Commonwealth Magazine

"A no-nonsense retort to the notion that we live in a time of abundant information." -- Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Margaret Sullivan is The Washington Post's media columnist and one of the nation's foremost authorities on journalism and the press. Previously, she was the longest-serving public editor of The New York Times, critiquing the paper on behalf of its readers. She began her career at The Buffalo News, where she rose through the ranks to become the paper's first female editor. Sullivan is a graduate of Georgetown University and has a masters in journalism from Northwestern University. Sullivan was twice elected a director of the American Society of News Editors, where she led the First Amendment committee, and she is a former member of the Pulitzer Prize board.