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When the Local Paper Shrank, These Journalists Started an Alternative

20 Jun, 2021

When Jon Mitchell, the mayor of New Bedford, Mass., delivered his state of the city address in 2019, he made an unusual plea.

“Support your local paper,” he said, referring to The Standard-Times, New Bedford’s daily newspaper. “Your city needs it to function effectively.”

Owned by Gannett, the parent company of USA Today and more than 250 other dailies, The Standard-Times was getting thin. Like thousands of newspapers across the country, it was taking on the characteristics of a “ghost” paper — a diminished publication that had lost much of its staff, curtailing its reach and its journalistic ambitions.

Now, two years later, the mayor’s assessment is more blunt.