Apr 2, 2019

Study shows America's local news crisis is linked to partisan polarization

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.

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Why it matters: Latam is Latin America's largest airline and its shareholders include Delta Air Lines. CEO Roberto Alvo noted in the statement the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the airline industry.

Novavax starts human trials for coronavirus vaccine

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Novavax began clinical trials of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus in Australia on Tuesday, per a statement from the Maryland-based biotechnology firm.

The state of play: 131 volunteers in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Brisbane will undergo injections as part of the study, the company’s research chief Gregory Glenn said during a briefing, per Australian Associated Press.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 5,495,061 — Total deaths: 346,232 — Total recoveries — 2,231,738Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 1,662,302 — Total deaths: 98,220 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy