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California is a Digital News Desert

California is a Digital News Desert

Op-Ed: Misleading political TV ads are filling up California’s ‘news deserts’

by Michael S. Rosenbaum

April 23, 2017

California is a state with a long tradition of citizen journalism and a long tradition of putting the news out in the open — by ballot measure. But over the past two decades, the state has become a digital news desert, with no public broadcaster or local government news to spare. This is according to a report last week from InsideClimate News and the New York times.

The report details how the lack of news coverage has allowed for an increase in the amount of time citizens spend watching TV news. This has occurred due to the increasing concentration of news content in the hands of a few companies and the increasing cost of news media, creating a “news desert.”

The companies that have dominated the news business nationally include Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which now has over 160 local TV stations across the country. For a long time, it was largely up to the individual state public broadcasters. But that state-by-state system has changed and with it the coverage of California politics.

The report notes that only 11% of the California populace now receives TV news from any form of public broadcaster, with the remaining two-thirds either relying on a handful of small affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, or CNN or reading their local papers.

“A major consequence of the decline in public media is the increased time citizens watch TV news,” the report says. “More than half of U.S adults — 56% — now say they watch about two hours or more of television news each working day.”

This comes at a time when the state has become a leading center for political disinformation. A group called “PropOrNot” has been tracking and reporting the state’s political disinformation efforts on its website. This group found that in 2016, “The amount of political news content in the news is now more than double what it was

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