Thursday, July 16, 2020

Partisan websites masquerading as local news are a growing trend; map shows whether any are near you

Screenshot of interactive map showing distribution of partisan media outlets. Red buttons and shaded areas are conservative; blue are liberal. (Nieman Lab map; click here for the interactive version.)
"The growth of partisan media masquerading as state and local reporting is a troubling trend we’ve seen emerge amid the financial declines of local news organizations. But what do these outlets mean for journalism in American communities?" Jessica Mahone and Philip Napoli report for Harvard University's Nieman Lab.

"Using previous research and news reports as a guide, we’ve mapped the locations of more than 400 partisan media outlets — often funded and operated by government officials, political candidates, PACs and political party operatives — and found, somewhat unsurprisingly, that these outlets are emerging most often in swing states, raising a concern about the ability of such organizations to fill community information needs while prioritizing the electoral value of an audience." The partisan media sites are particularly thick on the ground in Iowa, Michigan and North Carolina.

Conservative sites generally differ from liberal sites on other ways, Mahone and Napoli report: "We found that while the (few) left-leaning sites prioritize statewide reporting, right-leaning sites are more focused on local reporting, suggesting different strategies for engaging with targeted audiences and indicating the potential for these sites to exacerbate polarization in local communities."

Nieman Lab created an interactive map showing where the partisan news sites are anchored as well as the congressional district's political leanings. Click here for an in-depth explanation of how the map was created and what layers of data can be accessed.

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