Democracy Forum 5/20/22: The Demise of Local News: What Are We Losing?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

Democracy Forum: Participatory Democracy, encouraging citizens to take an active role in government and politics

Key Discussion Points:
Local news and local democracy.
What is a “news desert”? Does Maine have them?
What happens in towns that have no institutional news coverage? Does it affect self-governance at the local level?
Can citizen or grass-roots journalism fill the gap?
Even if we have plenty of citizen journalists, do we lose cohesion without an institutional resource that provides a collective understanding?

Penelope Abernathy, visiting professor at the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University
Dan MacLeod, Managing Editor, Bangor Daily News
Lincoln Millstein, blogs local news at The Quietside Journal

To learn more about this topic:

Survival of the Fittest: Can Independent News Media Endure in These Times? | Global Engagement at Georgetown University, April, 2022
New Report On The State Of Our Democracy | League of Women Voters 2021
Local news deserts are expanding: Here’s what we’ll lose | Washington Post, November, 2021
Exploiting the local news desert | Editor and Publisher, November 2021
Islander celebrates 20 years of community journalism – Mount Desert Islander, Faith D’Ambroise, November, 2021
Trends and Facts on Newspapers | State of the News Media | Pew Research Center. June, 2021

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Laurie Fogleman, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine:

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.