OLD Media Moves

Muse Abernathy named 2019 Welles Memorial Prize Winner

September 4, 2019

Posted by Erica Thompson

Penny Abernathy

Penelope (Penny) Muse Abernathy was awarded the 2019  Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize by The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business at the Columbia Journalism School.

Muse Abernathy was recognized for her widely-cited research titled “The Expanding News Desert,” which looks at implications for communities at risk of losing their primary source of credible news through changing media landscapes and its impact on the U.S. democracy. The research, conducted over a two-year period, analyzed data on more than 10,000 local news organizations from 2004-2008. The website where the research was published carries more than 260 interactive maps that provide detailed information on local news organizations, down to the county level, in all 50

“We’re excited to recognize Penny, who is a well-respected journalism professional and senior media business executive,” said Raju Narisetti, director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in a statement. “Her singular body of research on the state of local news as well as her studies on potential business models that could sustain future local news endeavors has driven real-world change and conversations among foundations, national news outlets, policy makers and the tech industry in America.”

The Welles Prize is given annually to an alum of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship, now in its 44th year. Muse Abernathy is a graduate of the Fellowship from 1985. 

Muse Abernathy has previously worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. She is currently a UNC-Chapel Hill professor.

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