North Carolina’s newspaper landscape is a mish-mash of regional and national media empires—many with a history of culling newsrooms for a profit before eventually unloading the skeletal remains to a competitor—speckled with a dwindling number of small, independently owned papers. The newspapers owned by these media giants have seen major cuts over the last two decades. Take, for example, The Herald-Sun, which was purchased by Paxton Media Group in 2006 for at least $100 million. Paxton almost immediately fired 25 percent of The Herald-Sun’s staff despite the paper being profitable at the time. It was then sold to McClatchy in 2016, which, crippled by debt from its acquisition of the Knight-Ridder company, instituted more cuts. McClatchy was recently purchased by Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund. While not be ideal, it’s better than the McClatchy bankruptcy bidder that came up short: Alden Global Capital, another hedge fund with deep pockets known for prioritizing profits over robust newsrooms. While we sought to create a map of North Carolina’s media hierarchies, we inadvertently wound up with a stark depiction of the state’s news deserts. Cities and tourism hotspots have at least one surviving daily newspaper, while coastal communities, the state’s rural center, and the far western region have none.
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