Loss of Local Newspapers Contributes to Political Polarization in America


Political scientists have long feared that the loss of many small town newspapers would lead to greater political polarization as even local races became more about political labels and less about individual candidates. A new study published in the Journal of Communication seems to confirm that.

AP: “The voting behavior was more polarized, less likely to include split ticket voting, if a newspaper had died in the community,” said Johanna Dunaway, a communications professor at Texas A&M University, who conducted the research with colleagues from Colorado State and Louisiana State universities."

When the local paper dies voters naturally gravitate to cable news and internet sources more focused on national politics so they are less aware of community issues and get less information about local candidates.

AP: Dunaway said voters in communities without newspapers are more likely to be influenced by national labels — if they like Republicans like President Donald Trump, for example, that approval will probably extend to Republicans lower on the ballot.

The diminished news sources also alter politicians’ strategies, Dunaway said.

“They have to rely on party ‘brand names’ and are less about ‘how I can do best for my district,’” she said.



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