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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser /Axios

New research published in Scientific American shows that when local newspapers shutter, citizens increasingly turn to national news sources for political information — which the report says "emphasize competition and conflict between the parties."

Why it matters: The findings underscore the roughly $1 billion being donated by philanthropists, corporate backers and tech companies to save local news, and puts more pressure on society to address the issue ahead of the 2020 election.

Details: The study focused on split-ticket voting, a practice in which voters cast their ballot in favor of a presidential candidate from one party and a senatorial candidate from another.

  • It found that communities that experienced a newspaper closure split their tickets less frequently than those that didn't during the presidential and senatorial elections between 2009-2012.
  • In the absence of a strong local news source, the study points to new research that shows that people will consider partisanship a central part of their identity and put effort into expressing it.
  • To that end, the study notes that some partisans actually sort themselves into the religious affiliation (for example, Evangelical Christians and Republicans) that matches their politics.

The big picture: The study's findings are notable because they show a direct link between the rise of partisanship and local attrition.

  • Previous reports have showed that the loss of local news can be devastating on a community — impacting everything from government operational costs to voter turnout — but have not drawn a direct correlation.

Be smart: Americans are largely unaware of how bad the local news problem has gotten, according to another study from Pew Research Center. More than 70% of Americans think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially.

  • There are dozens of efforts and lots of money being invested to find better business model solutions to support local news in America. 
  • For example, the Knight Foundation, one of the largest news non-profits in the country, announced Sunday that it's investing $6 million in 3 organizations that will focus specifically on bolstering local news business models.

What's next: Until something is done, the burden is carried by most of society's major institutions.

"We need to think about journalism the same way we think about supporting the arts. There's been a complete and total market failure for local news and so until the business problem is addressed, everyone — from philanthropic groups, to civic and corporate leaders, tech companies, and community leaders need to come together to address this crisis."
— Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism.

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.

6 hours ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.