Newspapers in rural areas are folding, leaving vast news deserts. But there are bright spots

The U.S. has lost more than 2,800 newspapers since 2005, many of them in rural areas. Now some journalists are redoubling their efforts to provide local news and trying new models in a difficult industry.


First Street in downtown Mount Vernon, Iowa, has the quintessential “Main Street” feel. It’s got a café , bank – and the local newspaper office.

The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun is nestled among the two-story red, brick buildings, the words “Sun” and “Newspaper” painted in fancy lettering on its windows.

The weekly serves the two small eastern Iowa towns, and on this day the newspaper’s one full-time reporter and editor, Nathan Countryman, is busy.

“I’m finishing up the calendar, finishing up the special section … and I’ve got two stragglers I’ve gotta track down, which is always fun,” he said.

The front page of a recent issue included three articles with Countryman’s byline; stories on Lisbon’s city tax levy rate, employee insurance benefits in the Mount Vernon school district and the town’s annual Easter Egg Dash.

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