“Citizens’ Local Political Knowledge and the Role of Media Access” by Lee Shaker, in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Winter 2009.
Hand-wringing abounds over the future of newspapers. With advertising revenues shrinking, how will they manage to stay in business? Who will fill their role of reporting on political affairs? Lee Shaker, a researcher in Princeton University’s Department of Politics, cautions that the issues are different for national and local news—and the outlook for local coverage is particularly bleak.
Many citizens get their local news from friends and neighbors, not from newspapers directly, but the news circulated in social networks tends to trace back to published papers, Shaker writes. A shuttered local paper could silence much of that chatter. Already, several major local newspapers have shut down completely (e.g., The Rocky Mountain News in Denver) or moved to an online-only business model (e.g., The Seattle Post-Intelligencer).
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