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Do Newspapers Matter? Short-Run and Long-Run Evidence from the Closure of The Cincinnati Post

Working Paper 686 | Published April 7, 2011

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Do Newspapers Matter? Short-Run and Long-Run Evidence from the Closure of The Cincinnati Post

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 Kentucky suburbs most reliant on the _Post_, incumbents became more likely to win reelection, 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 non-causal explanations for our 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


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