Ghosting the News, as the bearer of very bad news about the news itself, adopts an aptly funereal feel. But Sullivan—a media columnist at The Washington Post, a former public editor at The New York Times, and a longtime chief editor of The Buffalo News—is also offering an opportunity: to recalibrate our vision ... To write a book like Ghosting the News is to take on the challenge of proving a negative—to make a case for the urgency of the known unknown. Sullivan succeeds. Her book is an ink-bound alarm bell. The threat Americans face, she argues, is not just the news that lies. It is also the news that will never exist in the first place.
In Sullivan’s conversations across the country, readers told her they were aware of the problem — they saw local news as increasingly partisan or shallow. But they apparently hadn’t made a crucial connection: The decline in quality is due to the erosion of the industry’s financial foundation ... This lack of awareness of the threat facing local news is the essential problem Sullivan’s book addresses. She is sounding an alarm. She’s not the first to explore this crisis, but her book succeeds in its aim of delivering an urgent message in a concise way ... Sullivan does not advocate a particular approach. She is interested, she says, in 'anything reasonable' that supports the function of local news.
[An] insightful, sobering analysis of the modern news landscape ... Sullivan emphasizes that she isn’t simply bemoaning the demise of an industry because she has devoted her professional life to it. What is at stake, she says, is democracy itself ... Another proposed solution sparks Sullivan’s well-deserved skepticism: direct government subsidies for news outlets. Money means control ... Let’s hope that readers will be able to follow the story, and find out the answers, in well-staffed, reputable, healthy local news sources.