Today on Lever Time, David Sirota sits down with Semafor co-founder and editor-in-chief Ben Smith to grapple with journalism’s industry-wide reckoning — and explore why independent news might come out on top.

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There’s a crisis in journalism. Major media outlets like The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, NPR, and NBC News have laid off hundreds of staff this year, while other publications like Vice and Pitchfork have shut down their flagship websites. 

In January alone, one report estimated that more than 500 journalists lost their jobs — with local news outlets especially hard hit. One study found that more than half of U.S. counties have limited or no access to reporting about their communities. 

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And yet amid the destruction, independent news outlets are emerging from the rubble. Can these digital media start-ups, subscriber-funded newsletters, and independent journalists fill the hole left behind by corporate media?

In an in-depth, no-holds-barred conversation, Sirota and Smith seek to answer these questions, among other media matters. Smith is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the digital start-up Semafor. He also worked as the editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed News and covered the media industry for The New York Times.

For an unedited transcript of the episode, click here.