WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Fewer Newspapers, More Partisanship

Apr 16, 2019

Scientific American recently conducted a study that found newspaper closures are linked to partisanship. The publication used voting data from across the country over a four year period.

Scientific American said as local newspapers close, more people turn to national outlets for political information. The publication said those sources emphasize competition and conflict, whereas local newspapers serve “as a central source of shared information.”  The study also found readers of local newspapers feel more attached to their communities.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss agreed with the study’s findings. He also said local newspapers run editorials about local issues, which help generate conversations about matter of importance to the community.

Panelist Patrick Johnson said local newspapers create connections in communities. He is concerned that staffing cuts at local newspapers are harming their ability to cover what’s happening and are forcing people to turn to national media for information.

Panelist Rich Egger said too many companies are treating newspapers like profit centers rather than sources of local information. He said many media corporations seem afraid to run editorials in their local papers for fear of offending possible advertisers.

Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion.  This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University and advises the student editors at the Western Courier; Patrick Johnson, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at WIU and advises Western’s student radio station WIUS/The Dog; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.