Many newspapers are struggling for survival, but do people really care if they lose their daily paper? A new poll by the Pew Research Center says ... not really. PRC President Andrew Kohut gives us a quick overview of the results.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. Week after week, the news industry covers the grim developments in - the news industry, chief among them, layoffs, cutbacks, firings and the closings of newspapers around the country. Just this week, both The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The San Francisco Chronicle struggled to survive. But how much do people outside of the media really care about the death of newspapers? A recent poll by the Pew Research Center says – eh, not so much. Fewer than a quarter of those under 40 years old say they would really miss the local newspaper they read most often if it were to fold, and only a third of those between 40 and 64 would. The only group that responded in a majority that they would miss their newspaper a lot was the 65 and over crowd. But forget about missing the paper. What about all those unreported stories? What about the toll on the community? Andrew Kohut is the president of the Pew Research Center. He says, in fact, most of the people they polled didn't seem too concerned about living in a town with no newspapers. ANDREW KOHUT: What we found was only 43 percent of the people that we questioned thought that the civic life in their local community would be hurt a lot if local newspapers closed and only 33 percent said they would miss newspapers a lot if those papers were no longer there. BOB GARFIELD: Young people especially seem not all that put out about the death of an industry. ANDREW KOHUT: Well, yeah. I mean, you have to be over 65 years of age to say that the closure of a newspaper would hurt the civic life of a community a lot. It’s the oldsters who have this affection for newspapers and also feel they play an important role in American society. BOB GARFIELD: One final thing. When your interviewers were asking these questions, were they making it clear to the respondents that with the death of newspapers comes the death of the online product as well? ANDREW KOHUT: No, they weren't making that point, and it’s probably something worth considering. But, you know, a lot of the reason why people are thinking that their local community news wouldn't be affected is because they believe that television produces a lot of the crucial reporting in their local communities, and that’s where they're going for their local news by a goodly margin over newspapers. BOB GARFIELD: Hm, well [LAUGHS] that’s not long for this world either. Andy, thank you very much. ANDREW KOHUT: You’re welcome, Bob. BOB GARFIELD: Andrew Kohut is president of the Pew Research Center.