Post-Post Analysis

This week's On the Media from WNYC has a story called Paper Trail about the what losing the Cincinnati Post has done to democracy in Cincinnati.  According to Princeton economics Professors Sam Shulhofer-Wohl and Miguel Garrido's study, Do Newspapers Matter: Evidence from the Closure of The Cincinnati Post, the answer is, not much good.  According to the paper's abstract:

The Cincinnati Post published its last edition on New Year's Eve 2007, leaving the Cincinnati Enquirer as the only daily newspaper in the market. The next year, fewer candidates ran for municipal office in the suburbs most reliant on the Post, incumbents became more likely to win re-election, and voter turnout fell. We exploit a di fference-in-diff erences strategy -- comparing changes in outcomes before and after the Post's closure in suburbs where the newspaper o ffered more or less intensive coverage -- and the fact that the Post's closing date was fixed 30 years in advance to rule out some non-causal explanations for these results. Although our findings are statistically imprecise, they demonstrate that newspapers--even underdogs such as the Post, which had a circulation of just 27,000 when it closed -- can have a substantial and measurable impact on public life.

I haven't yet read the paper, but I'll be back with another post once I have.  If you read it, please post your impressions here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not overly impressed with the study in general. They seem to have made a lot of assumptions, most of which point in favor of their conclusion, and their statement that "the results are statistically imprecise" smacks of burying the lede. I also think they didn't factor in the possibility that potential challengers could have seen running in 2008 as a more futile exercise than in 2004 because of Obama's candidacy. Unfortunately, we won't know for sure until years down the road, long after we'll be able to do anything about it if newspaper closings do in fact make a difference.