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The Decline of Daily Newspapers and the Third-Person Effect

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  • Martin Johnson
  • Kirby Goidel
  • Michael Climek

Abstract

type="main"> In this article, we investigate the third-person effect within the context of the decision by the New Orleans Times-Picayune in September 2012 to end daily print circulation in favor of a three-day-per-week publication schedule and online news offerings. We utilize original survey data based on 1,043 telephone interviews with respondents living in the greater New Orleans area, including 530 landline respondents selected via random digit dialing and 513 respondents randomly selected from available cellular telephone blocks. We find evidence of a third-person effect on judgments about changes at The Times-Picayune. New Orleans area residents worry that the decline of information will negatively affect the ability of others to keep up with the news. We also show that the effects are contingent upon physical location. The greater the distance from New Orleans, the more pronounced concerns are about the effect of the loss of this daily information source on others in the community. To date, third-person effects have generally been studied within the context of enduring and established forms of communication, especially those viewed as having potential negative effects—politically biased messages, other forms of propaganda, and communication that could harm reputations. In this article, we extend this work to show third-person effects persist within the context of declining news coverage.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Johnson & Kirby Goidel & Michael Climek, 2014. "The Decline of Daily Newspapers and the Third-Person Effect," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1245-1258, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:95:y:2014:i:5:p:1245-1258
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ssqu.12112
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    1. Sam Schulhofer-Wohl & Miguel Garrido, 2013. "Do Newspapers Matter? Short-Run and Long-Run Evidence From the Closure of The Cincinnati Post," Journal of Media Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 60-81, June.
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