Introducing: Saving Community Journalism book and website

Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability, by Penelope Muse AbernathyWe are delighted to announce the publication of Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability, by Penelope Muse Abernathy.

America’s community newspapers have entered an age of disruption. Towns and cities continue to need the journalism and advertising so essential to nurturing local identity and connection among citizens. But as the business of newspaper publishing collides with the digital revolution, and as technology redefines consumer habits and the very notion of community, how can newspapers survive and thrive? In Saving Community Journalism, veteran media executive Abernathy draws on cutting-edge research and analysis to reveal pathways to transformation and long-term profitability. Offering practical guidance for editors and publishers, she shows how newspapers can build community online and identify new opportunities to generate revenue.

In addition to the book, which is available now in hardcover and ebook, there are online resources for learning more, staying up to date, and continuing the conversation. Visit to find lessons for publishers and editors, helpful videos, links to social media communities, and blog posts about how to build sustainable community journalism for the 21st century.

We will occasionally highlight activity from here on the UNC Press blog and through our social media channels. We’ll kick things off with an excerpt from Penny Abernathy’s inaugural blog post:

Headlines in recent years have focused on the travails of the country’s largest and best known papers, metros such as the Washington Post and venerable national publications such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, where I was a senior business executive for almost two decades. Saving Community Journalism focuses on the country’s other 11,000 newspapers (dailies in small and midsized markets, as well as weeklies) and digital start-ups trying to offer a robust alternative to a severely diminished local print paper.   Since historically local news organizations have produced the vast majority of information that sustains our democracy, their survival ultimately determines the health and well-being of the entire news ecosystem, including the metro and national papers.

This, then, is the call to action:  local news organizations must begin immediately reinventing and reimagining both their journalism and business models, or risk being tossed aside by both their readers and advertisers. The strategies that newcomers (start-ups) and old timers (print newspapers) must pursue are slightly different.  However, both must have a three-pronged strategy for controlling costs, using new digital tools to build vibrant communities of “readers” on many platforms, and profitably pursuing new revenue.

Saving Community Journalism tells the story of a dozen newspapers throughout the country, ranging from a 7,000-circulation weekly in West Virginia to a 55,000-circulation daily in California.  As I like to point out, these papers are both “ordinary and extraordinary.”  They share many of the same characteristics as thousands of other community newspapers.  But they bring an extraordinary passion and vision to the task of reinventing journalism and the business models that will support news in the twenty-first century.  Examples of how they have tackled the challenges can be found on the free instructional website that accompanies the book,

This blog offers an opportunity for me to share and build on the many insights into community journalism that I’ve gained since I was appointed Knight Chair of Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina in 2008.   When I returned “home” to my native state, I was intent on applying the lessons I had learned at the Times and the Journal to the excellent newspapers where I had worked as an apprentice.  What I have learned as the project unfolded over the past five years, and expanded to include more than 200 contributors, has significantly enhanced my own view of the challenges and opportunities afforded those who are passionate about community journalism.

Read the full post, “Ordinary, but Extraordinary,” at