Special: Democracy in the Desert
Mar 1, 2024

Special: Democracy in the Desert

They say all politics is local. So where’s the local news coverage this election year? Welcome to a Marketplace Morning Report special we’re calling “Democracy in the Desert. We’ve been traveling to what are called “news deserts” in Super Tuesday states to hear about the business models that are failing or informing voters as they make their choices. We visit a border town in Texas, North Carolina and a Virginia county that's just about an hour south of Washington, D.C., for more.

Segments From this episode

How voters in a Texas news desert get their information

Researchers have labeled 204 counties in America as "news deserts" — places that lack access to credible, reliable news sources. That includes Val Verde County, Texas.
Del Rio is county seat of Val Verde County, Texas — one of more than 200 counties in the U.S. classified as a "news desert."
David Brancaccio/Marketplace

When the local paper folds, who's left to cover the news?

Checking in with the remaining reporters in Val Verde County, Texas, three years after its last daily newspaper folded.
Del Rio, Texas, lost its daily newspaper in 2020. Media researchers have labeled Val Verde County, in which Del Rio is located, a "news desert." But that doesn't mean it's a complete vacuum of information.
David Brancaccio/Marketplace

How a lack of local news coverage may have played a role in a 2018 election scandal

And experts are finding links between voter apathy and a lack of reputable local news outlets.
After a 2018 ballot scandal involving North Carolina Republican Mark Harris came to light, officials ordered a new election.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

How one Virginia county an hour from D.C. became a news desert

In King George County, Virginia, the closure of local newspapers and struggles of area outlets to cover the community have left residents with few sources of reliable news.
With newspapers like the King George News and the King George Journal no longer in publication, residents of King George County, Virginia, have slim options for reliable local news coverage.
Alex Schroeder/Marketplace

The life and death of one local newspaper in Virginia

Keith Stickley had to pull the plug on the local newspaper he founded when he just couldn't make the economics work any longer.
"I had to create this printing company," said Keith Stickley, owner of Shenandoah Publications. "So we created the printing company to subsidize the newspaper. And so, we used printing margins to support a bad habit."
Alex Schroeder/Marketplace

The team

Leanna Byrne Host, BBC
Kelly Silvera Executive Producer
Meredith Garretson Morbey Senior Producer
Erika Soderstrom Producer
Alex Schroeder Producer
Ariana Rosas Producer
Dylan Miettinen Digital Producer
Jesson Duller Media Producer
Nic Perez Director/Producer
James Graham Producer, BBC
Jo Critcher Producer, BBC
Naomi Rainey Producer, BBC
Lis Mahy Producer, BBC