August 21, 2017 Last Updated 8:20 am

For much of the media, ‘Great American Eclipse’ is a welcome respite from White House news

Morning Brief: A new London Assembly Economy Committee report finds that ‘the market for local newspapers in London has been fairly resilient’ but warns that recent closures and staff layoffs could impact ‘on-the-ground’ news reporting

Today is the day of total eclipse in much of America — but, of course, it is cloudy this morning and the forecast calls for rain. That, however, might be good news, better to observe the eclipse via television anyways (safer) — and if you want a good picture, my guess is that Flickr will be your source.

annual eclipse

One thing to keep in mind is that these eclipses are not really that rare — a total solar eclipse is visible somewhere about every 18 months. So while a great swath of the US will see a total eclipse, much of the rest of the Earth gets to enjoy a partial one — and their turn at a total eclipse won’t be that far off.

But, being summer, and with the Congress in recess, the eclipse comes at a good time for news organizations. Especially those tired of talking about the White House.

Newsweek, Max Kutner:

Newspapers Were Just As Obsessed With the Last Great American Eclipse As They Are With the 2017 Event

The last time that a total solar eclipse crossed over the entire continental United States, in 1918, newspapers big and small covered the phenomenon. Reports described the crowds that gathered on streets to look up at the sky, and The New York Times called the event “a spectacle indescribably unusual and magnificent.”

The August 21 eclipse will be the first whose path of totality will cross the country since the one on June 8, 1918. In the days leading up to the earlier eclipse, newspapers printed the expected path of totality and advised readers on how to view the phenomenon safely, much as news outlets are doing now.

The New York Times, Dava Sobel:

9 Eclipses, 4 Continents, Never Tired of the Spectacle

In my enthusiasm for this year’s “Great American Eclipse” on Monday, when a total solar eclipse will be visible from Oregon to South Carolina, I pressured three women who had traveled with me for one or more previous eclipses to reconnect — and all three agreed to the reunion. I also managed, through my rhapsodizing, to persuade two new friends, four old friends and my family dentist to cement their own plans.

“You don’t want to miss this,” I told them, “and you don’t even need to leave the country.” All I ask now is for clear skies from coast to coast, allowing everyone bent on beholding the spectacle to be rewarded.

Eclipses over the past 25 years have carried me to Mexico, Turkey, the Galápagos, Greece, Siberia, China, Easter Island and Australia — sometimes as a reporter or guest lecturer — and still I regret the ones I missed.

The Yorkshire Post, Mark Thompson:

When to look out for the partial solar eclipse over Yorkshire

A partial solar eclipse will be visible across the UK just before sunset on Monday as the moon appears to take a “bite” out of the sun.

The phenomenon will last roughly 40 minutes with the mid-point occurring at different times around the country.

For observers in Yorkshire, it should be shortly after 8pm. In Edinburgh, the peak of the eclipse will be at 7.58pm and for those in Cardiff at 8.05pm.

Most major US cities used to have at least two daily newspapers. But the absence of competition in metro newspapers is less visible than what happens when a local community loses its only weekly or daily paper.

Where I live, the weekly paper folded years ago, and even the weekly shopper couldn’t make it any longer.

In the UK, where much of the press in national, the loss of a local paper can have quite an impact.

Local News

Financial Times, Conor Sullivan:

Loss of local UK newspapers ‘undermining democracy’

The decline of local newspapers is “undermining democracy” and is being quickened by some councils producing their own “news” publications, the London Assembly said.

While the number of publications in the capital was relatively “resilient”, this masked a marked decline in quality as falling readership and ad revenues force publishers to cut resources, the London Assembly economy committee said in a report to be published on Monday…

…Seven local newspapers closed in London in July, including one in Kensington, scene of the Grenfell Tower fire, according to the National Union of Journalists. Some of the staff involved received only a week’s notice, the union said.

The number of local newspaper journalists in the country has halved in the past decade, Press Gazette, a trade website, has estimated. The Kensington and Chelsea News had 10 reporters in 1990 but this had fallen to one, who was shared with other areas, before it shut.


Stop press! Local newspapers an endangered species

Without local newspapers, London could suffer from a democratic deficit. Local press plays an important role in reporting local events, scrutinising public bodies and holding them to account.

This key role, alongside investigative journalism is now at risk as many have stopped printing due to falling circulation numbers, job cuts and the rise of digital media.

Photo: annular solar eclipse by Takeshi Kuboki, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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