An epidemic of free alternative newspaper closures has left many US cities with no local journalism at all. Is it too late to save them?

In the basement dressing room at G*A*Y Lounge in Baltimore, Scott Murdock – who works by day in a health clinic – is about halfway into becoming his drag alter ego, Shaunda Leer. With Billie Jean playing on an iPhone, Shaunda applies exaggerated fake eyelashes as co-host Abbi Kadabra, wearing a white knit gown, adjusts a Jane Fonda-style wig in the mirror.

“It’s really disappointing,” Shaunda says, perfecting a cheek contour. “Not just for us, but for the other fringe artists out there who don’t have mainstream exposure in the city.”

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