“Don’t tell me we’re dead.” How viable is the locally owned newspaper model?

Looking to expand her social circle, and to become more involved on campus, Allie E. Lewis two years ago decided to join The Good 5 Cent Cigar, a student-run newspaper at the University of Rhode Island.

Lewis, a Cranston native, studied biology at the time. But she quickly fell in love with writing stories, developing sources and meeting deadlines. Shortly thereafter, she switched her major to journalism and now wants to be a foreign correspondent or political ­reporter for a newspaper after graduating next year.

Her career choice has her family worried.

“My family is very concerned that I won’t be able to get a job,” she said.

The concern is reasonable. Overarching trends for newspaper employment are gloomy. Since 1991, the number of newspaper jobs in Rhode Island fell 71.8 percent to 676. Since 2001, the state’s decline of 64.8 percent outpaces the national trend of 57.8 percent. Last year, the average newspaper salary in Rhode Island totaled $43,962, representing a 20.4 percent decline from its peak in 1997.

But if Lewis is really interested, she should find work here.

The widespread narrative that newspapers are dying isn’t quite accurate, as sharp declines are not necessarily indicative of death. And while many traditional and big-name newspapers suffer from entrenched and antiquated business models, some locally owned newspapers are adapting and in some cases growing.

Read the full story at Providence Business News here.

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