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Local news

As the loss of local weeklies continues nationwide and here in Central Massachusetts, the impact of those closures on the functioning of our democracy and local government is becoming clearer.

The Democracy Fund recently released a survey of nearly 50 academic studies on what the presence or absence of local news means for a community. Among its findings, broadly categorized:

  • Strong local journalism equals more people turning out to vote.
  • Weak local journalism equals fewer people voting.
  • Thorough local journalism helps people be less biased when considering candidates.
  • Quality local journalism can counter divisive national narratives that aim to stoke polarization.
  • Every dollar spent on local news produces hundreds of dollars in public benefit by exposing corruption and keeping an eye on government spending.
  • People feel a stronger sense of community in places with strong local journalism.
  • Local news keeps communities informed during times of upheaval, like disasters, protests, and pandemics—when people need critical information to engage their communities and leaders.

Some of these conclusions may seem obvious, but having them confirmed through rigorous study reveals how crucial local papers are to keeping democracy and accountability alive in small towns like Harvard. We hope they’re true of Press journalism.

The obligation of this paper to provide high quality journalism weighs heavily on all of us at the Press as Fall Town Meeting approaches. We hope you find this issue and next week’s townwide issue helpful in deciding how you’ll vote on the warrant’s seven articles (see our preview on page 1). Fall Town Meeting convenes in Cronin Auditorium in Bromfield School at noon on Saturday, Oct. 1. The Press will do its best to get you ready. The rest is up to you.

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