I hope I’m not violating any journalistic obligations toward objectivity by calling the following piece of news from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press rather depressing.
The group said that fewer than half of Americans, 43 percent, say that losing their local paper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Just 33percent say that they would miss reading the paper a lot if it went away.
And that’s the good news! According to the study, 42 percent of respondents answered “not much” or “not at all” when asked if they would miss their papers. That’s not the kind of news that inspires folks at papers threatened with shutdown like the Tucson Citizen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Chronicle, not to mention ones that have shut down like the Rocky Mountain News.
The numbers are more optimistic if you count on responses from people who regularly read the paper:
More than half of regular newspaper readers (56%) say that if the local newspaper they read most often no longer published — either in print or online — it would hurt the civic life of the community a lot; an almost identical percentage (55%) says they would personally miss reading the paper a lot if it were no longer available.