Facebook is not the only reason there's a local news crisis in America.
But the rise of Facebook is definitely a major contributor to a massive die-off in community-rooted journalistic enterprises around the country that, according to the Associated Press, has left America's small towns and urban centers with 1,400 fewer newspapers over the last 15 years.
Enter "Today In," Facebook's new-ish effort to help connect its users to "local news and community information." Except, there's one problem. Can you guess what it is?
Yep, with reliable sources of local news and community information disappearing all over America—partly because of Facebook—this new Facebook feature isn't working very well in a lot of places.
The service, launched last year, is currently available in some 400 cities in the United States. But the social media giant said it has found that 40 percent of Americans live in places where there weren’t enough local news stories to support it.
How much news is even needed to support "Today In"?
"The company deems a community unsuitable for 'Today In' if it cannot find a single day in a month with at least five news items available to share," says the AP.
After many years of loud warnings that this very problem was coming, Facebook has recently started donating money to help sustain local news.
But the amounts—$300 million here, $25,000 there—are a tiny fraction of what's needed. For a sense of the scale of the challenge, consider this: Facebook and Google, which don't employ any journalists, now take "83 percent all new ad dollars" worldwide, according to Inc.
That doesn't leave a lot for the ad-supported business model that's long been responsible for much of the solidly-reported news in this country.
Here's another data point, also courtesy of Inc.: "Google and Facebook now make more from ads than every newspaper, magazine, and radio network in the world combined."
Worthwhile news reported by actual working journalists does not come free—as Facebook's "Today In" feature is now learning, along with the rest of us.