The decline of local newspapers impact on democracy.

 

A recent study published in Oxford’s Journal of Communication (and available here) shows some very interesting links between the impact of losing a local newspaper and the increase of bipartisan (left or right) votes. Here are our takeaways:

Newspaper Closures Polarize Voting Behavior

Missing local news has a negative impact on political outcomes

“Local news sources are not merely suffering in this new marketplace—many are disappearing for good (Hindman, 2009; Shaker, 2014). As newspapers close, other local media are not emerging to fill the information gaps, with negative impacts on important political outcomes”

Less local news, less regard on local politics.

“Another emerging literature details negative consequences of declining local news. Where local newspapers are weaker, people know less about their representatives and subnational governments and turn out at lower rates (Hayes and Lawless, 2015, 2018; Kübler & Goodman, 2018; Shaker, 2014), and municipal governments spend less and borrow at higher rates (Gao et al., 2018; Yazaki, 2017). ”

The Nationalizing Media Environment and Political Polarization

Less news opinions creates more, national-based, bipartisan decisions

“Declining access to quality local news is harmful to voter behavior and responsive governance, leading to more corruption (Arnold, 2004; Besley, Burgess, & Prat, 2002; Campante & Do, 2014; Strömberg, 2004) and lower voter turnout (Schulhofer-Wohl & Garrido, 2013). In the absence of quality local news options, Americans may rely on partisanship and national news to inform their political decisions (Hopkins, 2018; Trussler, 2018).” A relative reduction of local news in the media marketplace may result in less exposure to local news and more regular exposure to national media, with significant effects on engagement and partisan voting (Clinton & Enamorado, 2014; Hopkins & Ladd, 2014; Hopkins, 2018).

When a local newspaper closes, split-ticket voting decreases by 1.9%.

[Split-ticket voting refers to when a voter in an election votes for candidates from different political parties when multiple offices are being decided by a single election, as opposed to straight-ticket voting, where a voter chooses candidates from the same political party for every office up for election. – Wikipedia]

Less local news mix local and national matters.

“Our findings connect the literature on the polarizing effects of the changing news environment to scholarship on the negative democratic consequences of the decline of local news: just as adding the internet or partisan cable news to the media environment can influence voting behavior, removing a local news source from the marketplace may polarize the choices citizens make”

So, now, what?

We wrote on Jan 17th, the post below announcing Google, Facebook, and now the Knight Foundation have reach a whooping $1B financial support quality journalism and for local news…

Saving journalism. [updated 2/19/19]

Also, on Feb 11th, we published this:

Trust, Media and Democracy

Why it matters to us

Quality journalism is mandatory for democracy and vital to Media brand values. The foundation of TrustedOut Media profiling  to provide sources Analysts will define as their need and trust in Business Intelligence, Advertising and PR.

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Freddy Mini

CEO & Co-founder