THE ENDANGERED FOURTH ESTATE

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There's a correlation between the decline of local newspapers and the rise of political polarization and corruption. As local newspapers, to include weeklies, close down/scale back, there's less accountability at City Hall. This reality, coupled with political polarization fanned by national news (CNN, FoxNews, NYT and social media), creates a narrowed source of news that feeds divisive echo chambers.

In this Associate Press article titled, Loss of Newspapers Contributes to Political Polarization, we are seeing the consequences to our country’s foundation.

As a former Florida mayor, I didn't always agree with my local newspaper's coverage, but citizens had local news they could rely upon. It's still holds true today, that voters are influenced more by their community newspaper than the USA Today. However, that source of community news is evaporating at the local level, creating a polarization led by national (top/down) media sources. Conflict sells and the national news outlets have the most ink to use.

As the Fourth Estate continues to wane at the local level, unethical and corrupt public officials will run unchecked compounding the erosion of our democratic republic, which leads to more polarization - its a death spiral with no happy ending for our nation. No matter what you think about national news, we as a society must have our local newspapers operating to protect our citizens and keeping local government accountable.

About Patrick Slevin

Patrick Slevin is a former Florida mayor.  He is a two-time winner of the PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for Crisis & Issues Management.  Influence Magazine named Slevin one of the "Great Communicators".  Slevin has been recognized by Campaigns & Elections Magazine as one of the nation’s top political “Movers’ & Shakers".  He is the founder and head of Florida-based SL7 Consulting. www.PatrickSlevin.com