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Inside Olympia — Decline in Local News

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What can and should be done about the decline of local news? 

In the 15 years from 2005 to 2020, one quarter of the newspapers in the U.S. shut down. The closures left 1,800 communities without a newspaper — so called news deserts. And the attrition continues. By 2025 it is expected the nation will have lost a third of its newspapers. Newspaper staffing is down too — by 50 percent nationwide. 

Here in Washington state, three daily newspapers and more than two dozen weeklies have shuttered since 2004. And there have been consolidations and buyouts. Today, six of Washington’s newspapers are owned by hedge funds. 

These are among the findings of a lengthy report recently released by the League of Women Voters of Washington. The report examines the crisis, the impacts, the response and looks to the future. 

To discuss the issue, host Austin Jenkins sits down with Lunell Haught, a consultant who teaches in Gonzaga University’s Masters and Doctoral Program in leadership and is the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Washington. And, Dee Anne Finken, a former reporter for McClatchy newspapers who teaches journalism at Clark College in Vancouver and who co-chaired the local news study.

(6/1)  Inside Olympia — First-Term Legislators

What is it like to be a first-year lawmaker? What are the challenges? The opportunities? The surprise? And the lessons learned? 

Host Austin Jenkins puts those questions and more to four state legislators who just finished their first session — including a one-day special session — at the State Capitol.  

Democratic State Representative Sharlett Mena has attracted media attention for a first session in which she was prime sponsor of a number of significant bills that passed the Legislature. She is a first-generation Mexican American, born and raised in the Tri-Cities, who now represents the 29th Legislative District in Tacoma.

Democratic State Representative Julio Cortes represents the 38th Legislative District, the Everett and Marysville areas. He too was raised east of the mountains — his family immigrated from Mexico when Julio was five, and he graduated from Wapato High School.   

Republican State Representative April Connors hails from Kennewick. A Washington State University grad, she’s long been involved in real estate and is in her first term representing the Tri-Cities’ 8th Legislative District. 

Republican State Representative Travis Couture, from Mason County, is a U.S. Navy veteran who used to patrol the Pacific in a submarine. He still works at Naval Submarine Base Kitsap, and is in his first term representing the 35th District in the State Legislature. 

Learn more about these new state lawmakers — why they ran for office, the issues they’re focused on, the bills they sponsored, and more — this week on Inside Olympia.