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Pink Slime news is spreading in news deserts

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There is a crisis with American newspapers and other forms of local journalism. In recent years, the newspaper industry has faced a number of challenges, including declining print readership, declining advertising revenue, increasing costs and competition from digital media.

As a result, many newspapers have been forced to cut staff, reduce the number of print editions, or shut down entirely. This has led to a decline in local news coverage and a reduction in the number of reporters covering important issues in communities across the United States.

This has given rise to “news deserts” which are communities that have limited or no access to local news and information. These areas are often rural or low-income communities.

In news deserts, residents may have difficulty accessing important information about local government, events, or community issues.

Without access to local news and information, residents may be less informed about important issues, less engaged in their communities, and less likely to participate in civic life. This can have negative consequences for democracy, as it becomes more difficult for citizens to hold elected officials accountable and to make informed decisions about issues that affect their lives.

Simultaneously there is the rising threat of “pink slime news” spreading in news deserts.

"Pink slime journalism" is a pejorative term used to describe a style of sensationalist and unethical journalism that is funded with dark money and is focused on news stories that are biased towards a conservative pro-business viewpoint, often with little regard for journalistic ethics or standards.

The term was popularized in 2012 after a controversy surrounding the use of a meat product called "pink slime" in some fast-food chains' hamburgers.

These pink slime newspapers may focus on issues such as race, LGBTQ, immigration, gun control, or abortion, often with a sensational and radical conservative slant.

Critics of pink slime newspapers argue that they undermine the credibility of journalism and contribute to a climate of misinformation and polarized politics. They may also have a negative impact on local communities, as residents may be exposed to biased or incomplete reporting on important issues.


Priyanjana Bengani is a Tow Computational Fellow at Columbia Journalism School's Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

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*This interview will be recorded on Thursday April 13.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi