Danny Hayes discovered that “the impoverishment of local political news in recent years is driving down citizen engagement”:
[O]ur analysis, based on a large-scale study of local coverage and citizen behavior in every congressional district across the country, demonstrates that the fading of two-newspaper towns is not the only problem. When the content of local news deteriorates — as has happened nationwide in an era of newsroom austerity — so do citizen knowledge and participation.
What this means in practice:
For example, a decline of two standard deviations in the number of news stories in a district (about 26) reduces by about two points the likelihood of a respondent being able to identify a candidate’s ideology. We find that this is true not only for the least politically engaged voters but also those who are typically more attentive to politics. Where the news environment is impoverished, engagement is diminished for all citizens.