Joshua Darr, an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, has written a book with Matthew P. Hitt of Colorado State University and Johanna L. Dunaway at Texas A&M University, “Home Style Opinion: How Local Newspapers Can Slow Polarization.” The book reveals their finding that the polarization of news consumers is slowed when a local news outlet's opinion section concentrates on local issues rather than national politics. The authors believe this finding should inspire local news outlets to keep and hire opinion editors to make those sections more local and more vibrant. Their book is free online until April 21, 2021, and will be available soon in print. This is an edited transcript of an interview of Darr by Mark Jacob of the Medill Local News Initiative.
The fact that Americans increasingly dislike each other based on party and don’t really want to hang out with each other based on party, those particular facets of polarization are something that local newspapers should care about.
Some of these local philanthropy groups that are investing in local reporting should at least consider an investment for funding local opinion editors.Joshua Darr, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University