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Capitol Communicator has a report that Merrill College released a study of Maryland's local news ecosystem.

Maryland’s local news ecosystem is suffering and needs help now, finds Merrill College study

by | Apr 25, 2024

The University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism has released its first Maryland Local News Ecosystem Study, which examines the state of local news in Maryland.

The report includes a landscape assessment aimed at identifying all the outlets offering news and information in the state; a content analysis of those outlets offering news; a comprehensive survey of editors and news directors regarding their needs, challenges, staffing and finances; and thumbnail descriptions of each local news outlet in Maryland.

“Local news is vital to an informed citizenry and a healthy democracy,” Merrill College Dean Rafael Lorente said. “The college’s researchers have sounded an alarm for the residents of Maryland. Our local news ecosystem is suffering and needs help now. They have also provided the rest of the country with a cookbook for how to examine their own states.”

The study identifies 176 outlets producing news and information about the state — ranging from conventional TV, radio stations and newspapers to neighborhood blogs and Facebook pages — of which roughly 156 can be described as news or journalistic.

Key findings of the the study include:

  • One county in the state, Caroline, has no news outlets. Eight counties have three or fewer.
  • Most outlets are small. Six in 10 Maryland news survey respondents said they have news staff of five people or fewer. The majority have overall budgets of less than $250,000.
  • While most are solvent now, four in 10 respondents said they could not survive in two years without growing their revenue.
  • Most of the news produced in Maryland is spot or breaking news triggered by official announcements. Just two in 10 stories were features or enterprise work.
  • Crime was the most covered topic in the state, followed by news about local groups and people, local government, then business and schools.

More here.

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