Every week, two newspapers in this country go out of business, according to a report issued in June by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Twenty-five hundred newspapers have closed since 2005 and many more are expected to stop operating by 2025, the report concluded.

Since 2004, the number of newspaper newsroom employees in this country has fallen from 71,640 to 30,820, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this year. These declines have caused a rise in “news deserts,” which are rural and urban communities with limited access to credible news and information that can influence how their residents live their lives.

“When local news isn’t strong and credible, bad things happen in local communities,” Stewart Bainum Jr., The Baltimore Banner’s founder, wrote in a June 14 open letter to readers.

The Banner is a new breed of news organization It’s an online publication that has come into existence at the very time when readership is shifting from the newspapers of old — the broadsheets and tabloids that for decades required gallons of ink and tons of paper to produce — to digital, internet publications.

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The Banner, in the mission statement published on its website, promises to deliver “local news that readers are willing to support.”

But The Banner’s creation as an online news delivery system is just a change in how readers get their news, not a change in news content. Getting local news coverage right, I believe, will be key to The Banner’s ability to penetrate Baltimore’s news deserts — and to its ultimate success.

An early test may come in The Banner’s coverage of the fall elections and their aftermath.

Credible journalism watchdogs such as Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and the Institute for Nonprofit News encourage newspapers that are committed to local news coverage to eschew “horse race” election reporting — in which the focus is on winner and losers — for the reporting of election policy issues that most affect people.

And then there is this.

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Most Americans want such news reports to provide “equal coverage to all sides of an issue,” a recent study by the Pew Research Center found. But while such “bothsidesism” reporting is supported by 76% percent of Americans, it is viewed less favorably by journalists. Fifty-five percent supported the view that “every side doesn’t always deserve equal coverage,” according to the Pew study.

This divide, no doubt, contributes to the public’s widening discontent with journalists.

Last month, Gallup released a poll which found that just 34% of Americans “have a great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence in media when it comes to reporting the news “fully, accurately and fairly.” Most — 38% — said they have “no trust at all” in the news reported by the nation’s mass media, which it defined as newspapers, TV and radio news operations.

Back in July, when Gallup narrowed the question to just newspaper and television news, the bad news got worse. “Just 16% of U.S. adults said they have a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in newspapers and 11% in television news,” the worldwide public opinion polling company reported.

Taken together, these data suggest that media organizations have a long way to go to win back the public’s confidence, Gallup concluded.

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The Baltimore Banner is well positioned to do this. It doesn’t have a daily edition that time-stamps its content. It publishes continuously throughout the day and regularly updates its stories. It has formed local news partnerships with WJZ, Baltimore’s CBS television affiliate, and public radio station WYPR.

The Banner is cut from a new media cloth.

But ultimately, the key to The Banner’s success will not be the method it uses to deliver news to people, but rather by the news it chooses to deliver.

And to get this right it will have to, in many instances, rethink the definition of news.

DeWayne Wickham is the public editor for The Baltimore Banner