How Much Do Newspapers Matter?

Catherine Rampell summarizes a new study [pdf]:

The authors present a case study of the consequences of closing a newspaper in this situation, The Cincinnati Post, which published its last edition on Dec. 31, 2007. They argue that the closing of The Post which left the Cincinnati Enquirer as the area’s only daily has led to lower voter turnout, fewer candidates running for municipal office in the suburbs most reliant on The Post, and greater re-election chances for incumbents.

The Post only had a readership of 27,000 when it closed. A caveat from the study's authors:

We caution that although our preferred point estimates tell a compelling story, the  results are statistically imprecise and sometimes sensitive to the treatment of very small municipalities. Further, our results cover only the Kentucky suburbs, because Ohio has not held regular municipal elections since the Post closed, and represent only the short-run consequences of the paper’s closing. Future research could investigate whether political engagement and competition return to their pre-closure level in the long run.