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Small experiments beat big ones, and other takeaways from BizLab’s public radio innovation summit
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Oct. 7, 2019, 2:05 p.m.

You’re pretty sure that local news contributes positively to democracy. But do you have the research to back that up?

In addition to this collection Democracy Fund assembled in June 2018, take a look at this list of research papers.

Academics have been diving into the structure and impact of local news operations for decades, and last week dozens of them gathered at Duke University to share a lot more at the Local News Research Conference. Hosted by Philip Napoli, the researchers dug into their work on the vital role that local news plays in informing communities in a democracy and discussed how their research can dig into its future steps. That includes papers like “Whites more likely to have spoken with a local journalist”, “Bursting the bubble of rural media deserts”, “Philanthropy in US journalism and the power geometry of place”, “How campaigns earn local media”, and more goodies. (We’ve covered several of them here.)

But the discussions pushed out more questions to pursue on who the researchers are trying to serve in their work and if the existing (currently not the most sustainable) models of news production are worth trying to save. The whole hashtag is worth an exploration, but here’s a roundup of the dialogue at the conference.

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