Local Black Out in Effect? Media Coverage of Local Suburban Politics

Project Summary:

There has long been concern regarding declining levels of civic literacy, which can be described as the ability to understand political processes such as elections, community consultations, and associational meetings, as well as awareness of these processes. This is said to be a key factor in explaining declining levels of civic participation, such as voting. Research has linked levels of civic literacy to media consumption. Communities with higher levels of newspaper readership tend to have higher levels of civic literacy (see for example Henry Milner, Civic Literacy: How Informed Citizens Make Democracy Work, University Press of New England, 2002). Therefore media consumption and the content of media available to citizens is a key concern for political scientists interested in understanding declining voter turnout rates and especially the consistently low turnout rates for local elections. This research project is concerned with the supply-side of the media-audience relationship. In the Greater Toronto Area and many other large urban areas more people live in suburban municipalities than the core city. Cohn in his 2013 presentation to the Canadian Political Science Association AGM (Local Black Out in Effect?) showed that Canadian newspaper coverage of local elections is weak and worse still does not reflect this population distribution, paying very little attention to local politics outside of core municipalities. This deficiency is seen as a serious challenge for the promotion of civic literacy. The present phase of the project is adding data from a second election for each of the three urban areas studied for Cohn's 2013 paper and also adding data from non-major papers (weekly community papers).

Project Description:

Project Type:

Project Role:

Country 1:

Country 2:

Country 3:

Country 4:

Start Date:
End Date:

LAPS [YORK U.] Minor Research Grant and YORK U. / YUFA Sabbatical Fellowship

Year Project Started:


Collaborator Institution:

Collaborator Role:

(e.g type 1000 for 1,000)
LAPS [York University] Minor Research Grant
York University / YUFA Sabbatical Fellowship