Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major

Political Science

Primary Minor

Ecology and Environmental Science

Second Minor


Thesis Advisor

Alison Howard, MA


Since the 1830s, newspapers have been accessible to all members of the public in the United States regardless of socio-economic status. Newspapers are important political information providers. Local journalists provide invaluable expertise for the community they serve about community-level problems, local elections, and help hold government accountable. If news organizations cannot afford to sustain a local newspaper and its staff, the result is a news desert for the community. While recent research has examined the decline of local newspapers, little has been done on how the decline of local newspapers affects civic engagement and voter turnout across the United States. To what extent do local newspapers contribute to civic engagement? Using Daniel Elazar’s (1966) typology of a state’s political culture, this thesis hypothesizes that moralistic states have fewer news deserts, higher voter turnout, and higher civic engagement than individualistic and traditionalistic states. This thesis did not find a clear distinction of moralistic states being the highest in voter turnout, in civic engagement, and lower in news desert concentration, but it appears that moralistic states have higher voter turnout in the 2014 midterm election across the board and have news deserts growing at the slowest rate compared to the individualistic and traditionalistic typologies. The health of our democratic republic requires civic engagement, and people need access to quality information to participate and cast their ballots.