March 4th, 2009

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Link Harvest: Why Newspapers Are Dying

This piece in Sunday's Wash Post illustrates the problem of newspapers, and their self-inflicted wounds. It chronicles a police beat in Baltimore attenuated to non-existence, allowing the police to make assertions that go unchecked and allowing the public access laws to whither away through simple institutional attrition. What is useful to note about this piece is that the reduction of the police beat began in 2001.

Newspaper owners gutted their own product, now come begging for sympathy because they are so critical. Throughout the fight at the FCC on newspaper-broadcast cross ownership, the newspapers owners argued that they were utterly indistinguishable from blogs and other forms of news reporting media. "It's all one big market! We don't need the newspaper cross ownership ban to protect newspaper reporting. No one pays any attention to whether their news comes from print or broadcast or digital."

OK then. So why should I care if newspapers go the way piano roll manufacturers and farriers?
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Folks Not Voting Against Class Interest After All?

This post at challenges the conventional wisdom that poor folks in Red States vote against class interest in favor of cultural values -- at least not in 2008.

It would not do to embrace the data as definitive. As the post notes, samples for some states are fairly small. (Here's the fun techy details for those who want the story behind the pretty maps.) Still, it challenges the conventional image of socially conservative poor folks voting for tax cuts for the rich because Baby Jesus cries for every abortion. It suggests that critical influences on Republican v. Democratic success in the Presidential election depended heavily on socio-economic class rather than "culture war," with voter participation from key socio-economic factors as determinative.

While it does not include information for '00 and '04, it would be interesting to see if the income correlation holds, and if states that flipped from R to D in 2008 also had a significant shift to voter turnout by poor and middle class voters (either because poor voters became more engaged (especially if one also factors in race), or because the number of poor voters increased). If the correlation is born out, it would suggest the need for significant strategy shifts in 2010 and 2012.