A neat new working paper from Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Rob Waldfogel entitled Media Markets and Localism: Does Local News en Español Boost Hispanic Voter Turnout?
has just been released. They point out that as regulators struggle with the decisions to allow national (and international) "control" of local media outlets, it is important to understand the different effects that local media have versus distant media. Using variation in the introduction of Hispanic news broadcasts in cities to test how local media affects people's civic engagement, they find that local media plays an important role in engaging voters. From the abstract:
In this paper, we exploit the rapid growth of Hispanic communities in the United States to test whether the presence of local television news affects local civic behavior. We find that Hispanic voter turnout increased by 5 to 10 percentage points, relative to non-Hispanic voter turnout, in markets where local Spanish-language television news became available. Thus, the tradeoff between integrated media markets and civic engagement is real, and our results provide a basis for the continued pursuit of regulatory policies that promote localism.
[A note: Oberholzer-Gee and Waldfogel have separately (with co-authors) analyzed music piracy's effect on sales and come to very different conclusions
. But they agree here.]