Loss of Newspapers Contributes to Political Polarization

The steady loss of local newspapers and journalists across the country contributes to the nation’s political polarization, a new study has found.

With fewer opportunities to find out about local politicians, citizens are more likely to turn to national sources like cable news and apply their feelings about national politics to people running for the town council or state legislature, according to research published in the Journal of Communication.

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2 thoughts on “Loss of Newspapers Contributes to Political Polarization

  • January 31, 2019 at 11:07 am

    you still haven’t got it: newspapers’ role is to inform … as thoroughly, as truthfully and as quickly as possible … that happens to be a 24/7 job, and it is very difficult to do it right … if you want to assume any role in politics at any level, quit journalism and enter politics …

    • January 31, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      Replying to Peter Alder: Not as simple as that, Pete. Indeed, never was just that simple. Look very critically at the history of journalism. The earliest intentions of journalism an d journalists may have been just that and the history of the profession is littered with those intentions and actual, well documented efforts and events that mark those efforts. Those efforts are still ongoing and journalism and its reputation has been the better for it. The profession will continue to benefit from this principle. Yet journalism and that central principle has benefited enormously from the presence and role of opinion writers and analysts – political economic/business – who are not exactly committed to this principle and don’t have to be. Reason? These people are members of our society and society is, by nature, made of different groups, opinion groups, whose views must be accommodated. And not only by journalism but by other segments of society. Journalism has to deal with these groups and their opinions.
      We can only imagine how drab the role of journalism would be if you didn’t have these divided groups and their opinions. Any of these groups would prefer that journalism was their possession only, as a weapon against their opponents. Amidst the fires of their divisive glories therefore, it makes the ideal and the role ‘to inform only’ very enticing and appetizing both to the audience who are often really fatigued by these divisions and, even sometimes appealing to the politically divided groups. Because it provides, at least sometimes, the only psychologically safe and reassuring grounds from the madness marketed by opposing groups. Like it or not, this is the ground on which folks like you still find the reason to task the journalism with what you consider its core principle. For this reason, journalism, as an institution is already in politics, as opposed to specifically asking a journalist to quit and join politics! In a sense, journalists are already there as a political party with its core principle as its offering to the people.
      If you actually rate the profession right now, they have and are doing better than Congress and way better than the White House. One more thing, it has always been far more difficult for journalism and always will be, than it has for political parties. Journalism is one of the few institutions in this whole fight whose only product is fairness and the promise to deliver that promise through only that perilous channel called information, a channel festooned with dirty political anaconders. For the most part, journalism and journalist understand this position and the good and bad that come with it. The ideal held by that position is constantly shaken by a number of factors. One is the fact that the very stock of its promise is constantly moving and changing. That stock is news, a phenomenon that;s always inundated with moving, changing and emerging parts. Another is the eternal battle of opposing groups that it must continue to moderate. We often assume and speak as if the moderator is the originator of society’s divisions. Yet another factor is the fact that unlike the groups it attempts to moderate, all of journalism’s efforts must be brought to and judged in the open both for authenticity and quality. In the court of that judgement, it has to face the feuding groups and the world. Each and every time, the world and the sparring groups merge to deliver judgment! Just like the product of journalism’s promises (news) that judgment is also given with speed – the speed of news! But that promise from journalism is not an equilibrium where we’re assured to rest without falling off. Society does not provide any such ground for journalism to stand on to deliver that kind of equilibrium because society does not have such a platform.
      Consider it this way: Journalists are the one group who are in politics with neither the political powers vested in politicians through elections nor the wide berth of maneuverability and escape other groups enjoy. If we occasionally learn to look in this corner of the mirror, we might find specs, maybe nuggets of insight that our everyday view doesn’t allow us enjoy!


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