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What's Next: A look at the future of the newspaper industry

The newspaper has been on a steady decline for more than 20 years but that doesn't mean people aren't accessing news that matters to them.

CLEVELAND — Hot off the press!

Do you remember when a newspaper was the one of the only ways people could get their local news?

Kent State Professor Jan Leach remembers those days because she helped produce that news.

“I was the editor and vice president of the Akron Beacon Journal,” Leach said.

Since that time, things have changed, and newspapers are seeing a steep decline.

Pew Research Center shows that 2016 marked the 28th consecutive year of decline for daily newspaper circulation.

Northeast Ohio is not exempt to the dip.

“Several years ago, I would not have predicted it and I would not have predicted it would be so dramatic,” Leach said.

Just this week, the industry took a couple of major hits.

“The Berkshire Hathaway people said newspapers are dying, I think that was Wednesday and then Thursday, McClatchy, which bought the Beacon Journal and sold it, declared bankruptcy yesterday," said Leach. 

RELATED: Major newspaper publisher McClatchy files for bankruptcy protection

Editor in Chief and General Manager of the Plain Dealer, George Rodrigue, also moved on from the publication.

RELATED: George Rodrigue resigns, Tim Warsinskey to take over as editor in chief at The Plain Dealer

“There's a lot of growing thunder of bad news so how does that make me feel? It makes me concerned,” Leach said.

She’s now at Kent State teaching future journalists, but she says she knows what we all know: the future is digital.

“I tell students that people are always going to need news, they're always going to need somebody to be where they can't be.”

That was evident in 2016 during the presidential election when the New York Times saw a 47 percent rise in subscriptions and the Wall Street Journal saw an increase of 23 percent.

The state of newspapers might take on a different look but Leach says people need to be informed and they will find a way.

“Don't give up on news...I'm saying look at all your sources, have a good diet,” Leach said.

RELATED: Let's Be Clear: An open conversation with Plain Dealer Editor George Rodrigue

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