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Avoid Heartache, Buy the Paper

A new poll out today shows that most Americans would miss their local newspaper if it shut down, and about three-quarters said such a loss would hurt civic life in their communities.

Majorities across age categories in the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said they'd personally miss it "a lot" or "some" if their local paper closed down, although older adults were far more apt to say the pain would be deep.

Attracting younger readers has long presented a steep challenge for print newspapers, and while these new data may be encouraging to the industry - 72 percent of those under 40 said the closure of local papers would harm civic life - there are also familiar warning signs. While 52 percent of those not yet 40 said they'd personally feel the loss, nearly as many, 48 percent, said they'd miss it "not much" or "not at all."

If your local newspaper shut down...

How much would it hurt civic life? A LOT/SOME 74%

[Chart]

How much would you miss it? A LOT/SOME 58%

[Chart]

Pew takes a decidedly different angle on their data, choosing to focus on the 26 percent of Americans who said they would "not at all" miss their local paper if it shuttered and the 16 percent who said "not much," instead of the larger numbers who said they'd miss it "a lot" (33 percent) or "some" (25 percent).

By Jon Cohen  |  March 12, 2009; 1:17 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Comments

Jon, you could avoid heart-ache by not publishing blogs that feature inept studies.

The poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, was:

–originally published in August of 2008, making this old news

–a study “based on telephone interviews conducted April 30 to June 1, 2008 among a nationwide sample of 3,615 adults, 18 years of age, or older.”

Only 3,615 people? Is that a fair representation of the US?

Check it out: http://people-press.org/report/444/news-media

Posted by: saffron2 | March 13, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The data reported here are from a Pew poll conducted March 6 to 9, 2009, so they're fresher than the 08 pew data, but the sample size was just over a 1,000. Thankfully Pew randomly selects respondents and interviews on both landline and cellphones, making the results representative of all U.S. adults, plus or minus.

That said, good advice on the likely benefits of avoiding inept studies; I spend far too much of my time fending off bad data.

Posted by: postpoll | March 13, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I spent the Bush years reading the NY Times and the Washington Post on-line because I could not BEAR the thought of looking at GWB. Honestly. I got the news, yes, and I missed the non-selected news that one finds as one turns the pages of a real, paper newspaper. I am back in business now, and truly feel informed about what's going on in the country and in the world as opposed to reading about my interests only. It will be HORRIBLE, and devastating to the business of the country, to have everything on-line. The actual reporting and investigating will go by the wayside and we will NOT be better for it. It is too bad that the papers of record, let alone the small community papers, consider themselves businesses rather than information purveyors. The sense of history will be lost, and as we know, those who do not pay attentioni to history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

Posted by: LTM6463 | March 14, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

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