BuzzFeed is gone. Vice is filing for bankruptcy. Fox News fired Tucker Carlson. CNN fired Don Lemon. The Des Moines Register lost 70% of its subscribers, and two papers close every week in the USA. As journalism faces a crisis, why did Axios just hit one million subscribers? Journalist Jason Clayworth of Axios Des Moines breaks it down.
What is Axios Des Moines?
Jason Clayworth is a reporter for Axios Des Moines office. Axios is a digital newsletter that focuses on local communities and hires local reporters. Clayworth credits the publication’s rapidy growth due to his team’s efforts focusing on local content and local stories. Axios just hit one million subscribers.
He was hired away from The Des Moines Register December of 2020. Prior to his time at The Register, he was with for The Cedar Rapids Gazette. Clayworth is a lifelong Iowan, and received his degree in journalism and mass communications from Drake University according to his LinkedIn profile.
In the exclusive interview, he answers tough questions about the state of media: is media bias to blame? Did polarization go to far? Do people crave local voices? How does he and the team handle their own bias?
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What’s the big idea?
Media everywhere is truly in crisis mode. Even before CNN fired Don Lemon and Fox News fired Tucker Carlson, we were on the precipice of media catastrophe. iHeart Media* had filed for bankruptcy protection, according to The New York Times, NBC is considering ending primetime programming early, giving local stations more programming. And media trust according to Gallup has hit all time lows.
According to a new poll from the Associated Press, three in four U.S. adults say the news media is increasing political polarization in the country.
Why are companies like Axios doing so well? Clayworth believes it’s because they truly focus on local reporting and their format is easy to consume. That may sound odd, but many media types have seen local topics and local reporting take a back seat to clickbait and polarizing angles.
In addition, local reporters are held accountable by their own neighbors and community. Clayworth also addressed his own bias, and how his team is receptive to criticism and always eager to hear reader feedback.
As local companies start to snatch up local media entities, are we looking at a major change in media consumption? Will local, smaller companies eat the bigger media companies?
So far, signs point to yes.
Jason Clayworth, Axios Des Moines
Jason Clayworth left The Des Moines Register to fill the local role at Axios Des Moines and requested Iowa Podcast listeners pitch him stories!
You can sign up to receive Axios’ free Des Moines newsletter here.