Disappearing local news discussed at City Club Missoula

There are lots of people ready to donate to news organizations and journalism nonprofits, according to Lee Banville, the director of the University of Montana’s School of Journalism.

But there’s an insidious catch, one that has ramifications for the future of democracy that depends on an informed citizenry.

“The thing is, people are very quick to give money to things that agree with what they say,” Banville told a crowd at a City Club Missoula forum on Monday. “They’re very slow to give it to things that don’t. And I will just say, just chew that over.”

That assessment is troubling for news organizations that try to publish objective stories and depend on readers paying for news that often doesn’t align with their preconceived opinions or interests. It makes sense, in that context, why certain news sites would be incentivized to publish content that gives consumers what they want to hear, even if it is untethered from the facts.

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Banville, who also teaches journalism and once worked at PBS NewsHour, was moderating a forum titled “The edge of the desert: Is Montana in danger of losing its local news?”.

The panelists

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