Title

Political Consequences of the Endangered Local Watchdog: Newspaper Decline and Mayoral Elections in the United States

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-3-2019

Publication Title

Urban Affairs Review

Abstract

Newspapers have faced extreme challenges in recent years due to declining circulation and advertising revenue. This has resulted in newspaper closures, staff cuts, and dramatic changes to the ways many newspapers cover local government, among other topics. This article argues that the loss of professional expertise in coverage of local government has negative consequences for the quality of city politics because citizens become less informed about local policies and elections. We test our theory using an original data set that matches 11 local newspapers in California to the municipalities they cover. The data show that cities served by newspapers with relatively sharp declines in newsroom staffing had, on average, significantly reduced political competition in mayoral races. We also find suggestive evidence that lower staffing levels are associated with lower voter turnout.

Original Citation

Rubado, M. E., & Jennings, J. T. (2019). Political Consequences of the Endangered Local Watchdog: Newspaper Decline and Mayoral Elections in the United States. Urban Affairs Review. https://doi.org/10.1177/1078087419838058

DOI

10.1177/1078087419838058

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