Reporting from Four News-Starved Towns in the Trump Era
by Greg Glassner, Charles Richardson, Sandra Sanchez, and Jason Togyer
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Pub Date 02 May 2023 | Archive Date 09 Aug 2023
The dramatic events of 2020—the presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic, protests for racial justice—affected every corner of American life. What did these events mean for the residents of small towns and cities that are often overlooked by national newspapers? How do local stories change when they are told by journalists with roots in these communities? And what is lost as this kind of coverage disappears?
American Deadline brings together dispatches from four longtime local journalists in different parts of the United States that tell the story of 2020 anew. It shares reporting from Bowling Green, Virginia; Macon, Georgia; McKeesport, Pennsylvania; and McAllen, Texas—two towns that lost their local newspapers and two where they are barely hanging on. The authors consider what makes each town distinctive and how these local perspectives tell a part of a broader American story. This book reports on how residents of these towns grapple with and talk about issues relating to race, schooling, health, immigration, deindustrialization, as well as local and national politics amid a changing and increasingly precarious information ecosystem. A distinct and intimate look at a calamitous year, American Deadline is an important book for all readers interested in the possibilities and future of local journalism.
Greg Glassner has more than forty years of experience in the newspaper business, the majority of it as editor of community weeklies in Virginia, including the Herald-Progress in Ashland. He is the author of five books, including biographies of U.S. Attorney General William Wirt and Virginia Governor William “Extra Billy” Smith.
Charles Richardson is a McClatchy Journalism Fellow at Duke University and a fellow at the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland. He has worked in newspapers, radio and television and was the editorial page editor at the Macon Telegraph for twenty-four years.
Sandra Sanchez has been a journalist for the past thirty years, including many years covering the Southwest border and immigration for USA Today. She also worked at the Washington Post, was the opinion editor for The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, and is currently a correspondent for Nexstar Media Group’s BorderReport.com.
Jason Togyer is the founder of Tube City Online, a nonprofit news website and Internet radio station. He previously worked as a reporter for the Washington, Pennsylvania Observer-Reporter, McKeesport Daily News, and Greensburg and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"Well-written and comprehensive, American Deadline is a fascinating look at how the tensions that are tearing us apart at the national level also affect community life."—Dan Kennedy, author of The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry are Remaking Newspapers for the Twenty-First Century
"American Deadline offers a fresh and unique chronicle of a year we’ll never forget—2020—through the lens of four communities where newspapers have weakened or vanished. These dispatches from the front lines of democracy—communities in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia—remind us of what's lost when Americans have only national (and increasingly partisan) news sources. American Deadline reminds us that local news is never more needed than in a crisis like a pandemic. We need local news not just to hold local officials accountable but to provide a more nuanced, textured view of politics from the ground-up. Communities across America have been starved of reliable local news. This book vividly illustrates the dire consequences for our democracy"—Sewell Chan, editor in chief of The Texas Tribune