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Coronavirus Kicking Journalism When It's Down

Images of San Diego Magazine covers hang on the wall in this undated photo.
San Diego Magazine
Images of San Diego Magazine covers hang on the wall in this undated photo.
Mainstream news media, already suffering from declining revenues as readers, viewers and listeners have migrated to mostly free digital sites, COVID-19 has choked off much of the advertising that remained. At the same time interest in the news has soared and numbers are climbing.

More people than ever are looking for local and national news due to the coronavirus and the politics around it.

But revenues supporting print and broadcasting outlets have taken a disastrous dip as businesses have closed and advertising has plummeted.

Locally, The San Diego Union-Tribune has just finished another round of buy-outs and lay-offs. San Diego Magazine, San Diego Home and Garden and San Diego CityBeat have stopped publishing, although perhaps not permanently (except in CityBeat's case). The San Diego Reader, normally fat with advertising pages, today is a shadow of its former self. The LA Times, owned by a billionaire, has just furloughed 40 employees, cut pay for others and shuttered three smaller local publications.

Pundits warn of the consequences of the collapsing of local journalism -- undetected and unreported malfeasance being the most serious. The story of the flourishing culture of corruption in the city of Bell, CA, is a case in point. Malfeasance by Congressmen Randy Cunningham and Duncan Hunter, Jr., was also exposed by journalists.

Matt Hall, Union-Tribune editorial and opinion director, and freelance writer Randy Dotinga joined KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about the state of local journalism during this pandemic.