Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The newspaper bailouts are coming

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should soon start hearings about "saving" the nation's newspapers. If a very thin study about democracy in northern Kentucky is any indication, the coming newspaper bailouts should be a very effective focal point for grassroots opponents of tax/bailout/stimulus policies.

Two Princeton University economists looked at a tiny amount of election data and news coverage of the tiny Kentucky Post and quickly -- and repeatedly -- concluded that the existence of newspapers reduces incumbent advantages, motivates citizens to run for office, and enhances voter turnout:

"News coverage potentially inuences election outcomes in many ways. By revealing incumbents' misdeeds or making it easier for challengers to get their message out, a newspaper may reduce incumbent advantage. Newspaper stories could also raise interest in politics, inspiring more people to vote or run for office."

"The Cincinnati Post was a relatively small newspaper, with circulation of only 27,000 when it closed. Nonetheless, its absence appears to have made local elections less competitive along several dimensions: incumbent advantage, voter turnout and the number of candidates for office."

Expect this study to get a lot more attention than it deserves in the march toward making you pay more for propaganda you already rejected.

As an alternative, we might consider spending less on welfare for newspapers.