News Interest Index: Stop the Presses? Many Americans Wouldn't Care a Lot if Local Papers Folded

Mar 12, 2009

As many newspapers struggle to stay economically viable, fewer than half of Americans (43%) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Even fewer (33%) say they would personally miss reading the local newspaper a lot if it were no longer available.

Not unexpectedly, those who get local news regularly from newspapers are much more likely than those who read less often to see the potential shutdown of a local paper as a significant loss. More than half of regular newspaper readers (56%) say that if the local newspaper they read most often no longer published – either in print or online – it would hurt the civic life of the community a lot; an almost identical percentage (55%) says they would personally miss reading the paper a lot if it were no longer available.

The latest weekly News Interest Index, conducted March 6-9 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that the public is continuing to pay close attention to news about the economic crisis and President Obama’s agenda. About a quarter (26%) say the unveiling of Obama’s plan to set aside $630 billion toward overhauling the U.S. health care system was the story they followed most closely last week. Nearly one-in-five (18% each) say their top story was the rising unemployment rate or the major drops in the stock market.

Read the full report Many Would Shrug if Their Local Newspaper Closed on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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