Sam Schulhofer-Wohl - Senior Economist
Published September 27, 2012
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 Kentucky suburbs most reliant on the Post, incumbents became more likely to win re-election, and voter turnout and campaign spending fell. These changes happened even though the Enquirer at least temporarily increased its coverage of the Post’s former strongholds. Voter turnout remained depressed through 2010, nearly three years after the Post closed, but the other effects diminished with time. We exploit a difference-in-differences strategy and the fact that the Post’s closing date was fixed 30 years in advance to rule out some noncausal explanations for our results. Although our findings are statistically imprecise, they suggest 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.
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