Penelope (Penny) Muse Abernathy is a journalist, author, educator and former senior media executive, who specializes in researching the state of local news and preserving quality journalism by helping media organizations develop sustainable business strategies. Her research focuses on the emergence of “news deserts” and “ghost newspapers” in the United States and the implications of the digital revolution for news organizations and democracy.Ms. Abernathy is currently a visiting professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, where she collaborates with the Local News Initiative and Spiegel Research Center on news research. “Penny is the nation’s foremost authority on the worsening crisis of local news deserts across the U.S. Her research has . . . brought attention to this critical problem and what it means in a self-governed democracy,” said Medill Dean Charles Whittaker in announcing her appointment January 2021.Previously, she was the Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for 13 years. During that time, she produced two books on emerging digital business strategies – “Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability” and “The Strategic Digital Media Entrepreneur” – and four major reports on the state of local news, including “News Deserts and Ghost Newspapers: Will Local News Survive?” (2020). As a senior business executive, Abernathy was responsible for leading strategy and operations at some of the nation's most prominent news organizations and publishing companies, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Harvard Business Review. She also served as vice president and executive director of industry programs at the Paley Center for Media. Before moving to the business side of the industry, Abernathy was a newspaper reporter and editor at several daily newspapers, including The Charlotte Observer, The Dallas Times-Herald and The Wichita Eagle.She was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 1998, in recognition of her journalism and business achievements.She has Master’s degrees in business administration and journalism from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.