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“You couldn’t GIVE it away”: Study shows bleak response to free newspaper subscriptions 

Summarised by Centrist

A study published in the American Journal of Political Science revealed disappointing results regarding efforts to increase state and local news consumption in the US state of Pennsylvania. 

Despite offering over 2,000 individuals free online subscriptions to local newspapers, only 44 people subscribed.

According to the study’s authors: “The engaged citizens who formerly read [local newspapers] now prefer national, partisan content.”

While local newspapers have historically played a vital role in informing residents about regional politics, national-focused media has shifted how people consume news. This has been economically challenging for local newspapers.

The study, conducted by Daniel J. Hopkins and Tori Gorton, aimed to counteract these trends by encouraging Pennsylvania residents to engage more with state and local news. The low uptake suggests a significant challenge in promoting local news consumption.

The study also found a partisan divide in subscription rates, with left leaning voters more likely to engage with local news than right leaning voters. 

Simply providing access to local news content, even through targeted online interventions, may not be enough to overcome disengagement or distrust. 

This was evident as efforts to promote specific articles through Facebook yielded no significant uptick in political knowledge or engagement among participants.

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