1st Edition

Reviving Rural News Transforming the Business Model of Community Journalism in the US and Beyond

    102 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Based on extensive research into weekly rural publishers and rural readers, Reviving Rural News demonstrates that a new financial approach to community journalism is urgently needed and viable.

    This book provides historical context for the state of local news, examines the influence of journalistic identity and boundaries that have prevented change, and offers practical guidance on how to adapt the financial strategies of weekly newspapers to the habits of modern readers. Findings are grounded in robust data collection, including surveys, focus groups, and a year-long oral history study of a small weekly newspaper group in the United States. A new model known as Press Club is presented as a template via which memberships, events, and newsletters can better engage community journalism with its audiences and create a more sustainable path for the future.

    Reviving Rural News will be of interest to advanced students and researchers of local, community, and rural journalism as well as practitioners looking to bring about real-world change in journalism organizations.



    1. Introduction. Rural Journalism in Crisis

    Patrick Ferrucci and Teri Finneman


    The History of How We Got Here

    The Norms of Journalism

    An International Problem

    Project Overview



    2. The Uniqueness of Rural News

    Patrick Ferrucci

    Defining Rural News

    Disruption of Local News

    Understanding the Rural News Weekly

    Disruptive Innovation

    The Urgency of a New Model



    3. Publishers: Stuck in the Status Quo

    Nick Mathews

    The Survey

    Tradition vs. Innovation

    Resources vs. Growth

    Potential vs. Perception



    4. Readers: Seeking Change

    Teri Finneman

    Finding Rural Readers

    Readers and Revenue Streams

    Reader Motivation for Financial Support

    Who Supports Local News?




    5. Press Club: Implementing Change 

    Teri Finneman and Nick Mathews

    Who is Harvey County Now?

    Getting Started: Forming the Experiment

    The Model: Press Club

    After the Launch

    The Model: E-newsletters

    The Model: Events

    Reflecting on the Experiment


    6. Rural Journalism and Disruption

    Nick Mathews and Patrick Ferrucci

    Rural Journalism and Disruption

    The Final Words





    Teri Finneman is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, USA. She is a journalism historian who also studies local news. She coedited Social Justice, Activism and Diversity in U.S. Media History. She is the founder of the Journalism History podcast.

    Nick Mathews is an assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of Missouri, USA. He studies local and rural news and information ecosystems. He often seeks to represent the audience, translating their lived experiences for news organizations to help those news organization’s stability and viability in their communities.

    Patrick Ferrucci is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Colorado, USA. His research is in media sociology and primarily concerns itself with how shifting notions of “organization” in journalism lead to influence on journalism practice. He is the author of Making Nonprofit News: Market Models, Influence and Journalism Practice, and coeditor of The Institutions Changing Journalism: Barbarians Inside the Gates.

    Reviving Rural News helps readers see the value and role of community and rural news, and helps the people running those newsrooms see the dire need for thoughtful experimentation, which, by the way, works. This book shows that we – readers, communities, and journalists – all have a stake in the survival of local news and a role to play in that transformation.

    Kristen Hare, Poynter


    Local news is one of the most valuable forms of journalism, yet it is ironically also the least economically secure. Drawing on a rich data set, Reviving Rural News offers a sharply written explanation of why this problem persists, and, more importantly, puts forward a compelling argument for how to solve it. The result is an invaluable contribution to both journalism studies and practice that not only provides a novel solution to one of journalism’s most distressing problems, but also a template for how journalists and journalism scholars can – and should – work together.

    Jake Nelson, University of Utah