News can be a lot of things.

It can be fake. It can be biased. It can be noisy. It can be overwhelming. But it is still necessary for two things:

Public conversation - this could range from a report about communities affected by a new policy to uncovering a government scam Making informed decisions - this could range from deciding which stock to buy to which candidate to vote for.

So what's the role of journalism in this?

Journalists' job is to report facts, hold the powerful accountable and give voice to the voiceless. They make sure that the public conversation remains rooted in a shared reality (no alternate facts) and anything that matters is not missing from that conversation. They make sure that our decisions are informed by presenting all the facts & not just selective facts.

So, what we need is credible and comprehensive news where the credible and comprehensive part rests upon the journalists.

But what happens when we don't have credible and comprehensive news outlets/reporters?

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So what's the role of journalism in this?

We get a news desert, a community with a lack of or limited access to credible and comprehensive news.

This term emerged in the US when they lost more than 2000 newspapers and 50% of the newsroom staff within 15 years. The term might have emerged in the US but its relevance can be seen all over the world, even in India. Since there is no consolidated research on media layoffs in India, we don't have an exact number to point to but the impact can be seen.

Newspapers like Hindustan Times, TOI, The Hindu, have either closed down regional bureaus or laid off staff and the same is true for TV networks like ABP News or NDTV. But the worst affected aren't the big media houses like these but the local news outlets. The most recent case being of Mumbai Mirror shutting down its operations.

All this has been happening for a long time, the pandemic just accelerated it.

Cause of news deserts

The business model that worked well for the printing press is not suitable for the Internet age because that business model relies on the unidirectional structure of information broadcasting: Only a few rich entities (capable of buying a printing press) can create content for the public.

The structure behind these news organizations is not suitable for an age where anyone or everyone could create content. If everyone can create content, then the ones holding people's attention have a better proposition for advertisers i.e. Facebook & Google.

Journalism needs your support

In order to restructure the news sourcing and dissemination process, journalism needs your support and not just in monetary form. At Concord, we are trying to re-think your role as a more active participant in the news rather than of a passive news audience.

But first, we need your help to make sure that no more journalism outlets die. You can contribute by trying our early release and shape the news experience on Concord with your feedback.