Media, choice, & citizens' local political knowledge, attitudes, & behavior

Lee Shaker, University of Pennsylvania


Focusing on the 2007 mayoral campaign in Philadelphia and using a multi-method approach, this dissertation examines the structure and content of the modern local media environment and the ways it relates to citizens' local political knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. This project probes a little-studied domain – the relationship between media and local politics – and recent developments in the media environment make the undertaking particularly timely and salient. In a nutshell, locally-based media institutions that formed the core of citizens' media environments for generations and provided wide access to local political information (LPI) are facing an onslaught of competition from far-flung media outlets that contain minimal local content. Access to and consumption of LPI is a critical resource that supports citizens' knowledge of and engagement with their communities, so this transition from proximate to remote media threatens the practice of local politics. Two fundamental beliefs drive this research. The first is the conviction that the health of local politics in America is a critical and overlooked issue at the outset of the 21st century. The second is the notion that news media operate as a crucial combination of watchdog, conduit, and civic glue that foments a necessary, ongoing discourse amongst citizens and with their government. The twin goals of this dissertation, thus, are to expand our understanding of the practice of local politics in America and to examine the vitality of local news media today in Philadelphia. Defenders of community media should be galvanized by its results: local news media are critical components of local democracy worth fighting for. Democrats of all stripes should be given pause by its results: despite the importance of local news media to the practice of local politics, the production and consumption of local political information is under siege.

Subject Area

Political science|Mass communications

Recommended Citation

Shaker, Lee, "Media, choice, & citizens' local political knowledge, attitudes, & behavior" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3346188.