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264 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 2 figs, bibl., index

ISBN  978-1-4696-1542-4
Published: April 2014

Saving Community Journalism

The Path to Profitability

By Penelope Muse Abernathy

America's community newspapers have entered an age of disruption. Towns and cities continue to need the journalism and advertising so essential to nurturing local identity and connection among citizens. But as the business of newspaper publishing collides with the digital revolution, and as technology redefines consumer habits and the very notion of community, how can newspapers survive and thrive? In Saving Community Journalism, veteran media executive Penelope Muse Abernathy draws on cutting-edge research and analysis to reveal pathways to transformation and long-term profitability. Offering practical guidance for editors and publishers, Abernathy shows how newspapers can build community online and identify new opportunities to generate revenue.

Examining experiences at a wide variety of community papers--from a 7,000-circulation weekly in West Virginia to a 50,000-circulation daily in California and a 150,000-circulation Spanish-language weekly in the heart of Chicago--Saving Community Journalism is designed to help journalists and media-industry managers create and implement new strategies that will allow them to prosper in the twenty-first century. Abernathy's findings will interest everyone with a stake in the health and survival of local media.

About the Author

Penelope Muse Abernathy, formerly an executive with the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, is Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


"The engaging style and practical examples in this book will appeal to both journalists and scholars."
--Library Journal

"[Saving Community Journalism] may help community newspapers turn the corner."
--Newspaper Association of America

"The decline of journalism--by which I mean people who are paid to find out the truth--is one of the tragedies of the 21st century. There is no single antidote, but Saving Community Journalism offers the beginnings of an answer for smaller news organizations. Abernathy's insights are particularly valuable because she is one of a rare breed that understands both business and journalism."
--Alan Murray, President, Pew Research Center

Saving Community Journalism abounds in timely ideas and practical advice for protecting--and expanding upon--the vital service we provide for readers, advertisers and our communities. Regardless of where they are in the never-ending evolution of our business, all publishers will find new insights."
--Mary Junck, CEO of Lee Enterprises and Chair of the Associated Press

"Saving Community Journalism is a clear-eyed and invaluable exploration of what it will take for newspapers--the engines of community journalism--to not only survive, but thrive. Penny Abernathy wisely sees that it is the journalism that must be preserved, and her penetrating book shows how that can be done and still make a profit."
--Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Media and author of Losing The News

"An excellent and timely book during this period of extreme change in media. The community newspaper has been an important core vehicle for ensuring democracy in America, yet the community newspaper has faced, and will continue to face rugged challenges to their very existence. Dozens of community newspapers have either disappeared or been absorbed by national papers (which themselves are under threat). Penny Abernathy, who has experience in virtually all journalistic forms, lays out a clear and compelling path forward for the owners and managers of community newspapers. Her recommendations will not be painless to follow, but they will be successful for those managements who can measure up. It is a vital book for our times and our democracy."
--Richard N. Foster, Yale School of Management and author of Creative Destruction

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