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By Brown Maher, PressGazette, June 17, 2022

The number of police communications officers often “rivals or outweighs” the number of local news reporters in some UK regions, according to a major study into news deserts.

New research, published by the Charitable Journalism Project, found in many places Facebook had replaced news publishers as the main way people get their local news.

That in turn had led to the proliferation of false information in those communities.

The study also identified a widely-articulated desire from communities for the return of local news and the scrutiny it applies to local institutions.

In one of the first major pieces of research into news deserts in the UK, researchers led by Dr Steven Barclay of City University conducted a total of 72 interviews and eight focus groups in seven news areas identified as news deserts in England and Wales.

A news desert is defined in the report as somewhere which may have some local media coverage but which has seen a “significant reduction in the provision of local news in recent years”.

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