Areas with a community newspaper typically have fewer drug-related arrests, according to a study published in the winter issue of Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.
"Community newspapers function to foster a perception of close-knit cohesive communities," and the greater their penetration into a market, the more civic engagement a community has, the researchers write. Civic engagement leads to a sense of belonging, which results in fewer drug-related arrests, they found.
"Community newspapers promote civic engagement by highlighting the characters and activities of local residents and institutions, fostering affective attachment to community, presenting information that helps participate in community events and activities, and cultivating common values in pursuit of social goods," the researchers write. "Communities with such information resources tend to develop voluntary participation."
The study examined a nationally representative sample of 389 counties in 24 states, chosen at random to represent the nation's four main regions. It used information from the federal Uniform Crime Reporting Program and defined "community newspaper" as one with a circulation of less than 50,000. The authors are Masahiro Yamamoto of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Weina Ran of Washington State University. To read their full report, click here. A subscription may be required.