The consequences of this decline in local news are not always immediately obvious, but over time they become more evident—and dramatic. Healthy local news coverage provides a watchdog microscope on state and local government. Government meetings are almost invariably open to the public, but this does little good if no one outside the government actually attends. News reporters are the ones incentivized to look for scandals—mismanaged funds, favoritism, abuse of power, graft, waste, and so forth. Who will catch these abuses if reporters aren't present in the room? Who will deter public officials from engaging in any lecherous activities?
Declining news coverage can also undermine representation. At least one study has found that legislators tend to better represent their districts when the media provides better coverage of those constituents. Weaker news coverage also results in a less engaged citizenry, and one that's less knowledgeable about politics.