What Are the Costs of a Shrinking Local Media Landscape?

David Lesher, editor and CEO of CALmatters, will visit UCR for a conversation about the challenges of maintaining government transparency

David Lesher, editor and CEO of CALmatters, will present at UC Riverside the evening of Wednesday, April 25.

David Lesher, editor and CEO of CALmatters, will present at UC Riverside the evening of Wednesday, April 25.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — As the staffs of local newsrooms grow ever smaller, David Lesher has one question: Who’s going to be left to hold government accountable?

Lesher is co-founder, editor-in-chief, and CEO of the nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture CALmatters.

Based in Sacramento, he heads an editorial team with a singular aim: explaining how state government operates in California and why it should matter to the state’s nearly 40 million residents.

On Wednesday, April 25, Lesher will visit the University of California, Riverside for a conversation about the alarming state of local news media and the dangers of a world where the public’s access to reliable information about the officials they’ve elected is severely restricted.

Lesher’s presentation, “The Disappearing Media,” is part of the Randall Lewis Seminar Series presented by UCR’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, or CSSD. The free, public event will run from 5:30-7 p.m. at the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) at 1084 Columbia Ave. Advance registration is requested and can be completed here.

In recent years, budget cuts, layoffs, and newsroom “reorganizations” have plagued print and digital outlets around the country. In California alone, such reorganizations have dramatically reduced the staffs of the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, and a fleet of more than 30 local and city newspapers managed by the Denver-based publisher Digital First Media.

“If you care about this state, it’s time to sound the alarm about the crisis in media and what it means for the health of democracy in the world’s sixth largest economy,” Lesher wrote in a commentary piece published by CALmatters in January. “Media is declining nationally, but unique pressures have made California into America’s laboratory for a dangerous experiment about what happens to the public interest when policy is made without the public’s awareness or accountability.”

Prior to co-launching CALmatters in 2015, Lesher served as government affairs director for the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank with offices in San Francisco and Sacramento. He’s also a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of journalism experience at publications such as the Los Angeles Times, where his roles included political writer, state Capitol reporter, and assistant national editor for the White House campaign.

Established in 2003, the CSSD explores the social, economic, political, and environmental impacts that population growth and movement have on cities and local communities. Housed in UCR’s School of Public Policy, the center facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations in the community through its staff and affiliated faculty via research, joint conferences, workshops, and public forums held at UCR and in the community.

The Randall Lewis Seminar Series is an ongoing program of the CSSD funded by Randall Lewis, executive vice president of Upland-based Lewis Operating Cos. The seminars focus on a wide range of regional sustainability topics such as air and water resources, infrastructure and transportation planning, affordable housing, and the fiscal health of cities.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-1287
E-mail: tess.eyrich@ucr.edu

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