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Partisan divide seen in how local news should be supported

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s partisan divide is evident when Americans are asked about what should be done to help the nation’s struggling local news industry.

While two-thirds of Democrats say news organizations in need should be able to receive government or private funding in order to survive, only 17% of Republicans feel the same way, according to a study released Sunday by Gallup and the Knight Foundation. For independents, 37% back such funding.

Republicans are also more likely to take a sink-or-swim attitude toward the press. While 72% of Democrats say local newspapers are vital and should be preserved even if they’re failing financially, 76% of Republicans say they’re just like any other business and if they can’t hack it, tough luck.

“It’s not surprising to me to see the level of polarization in general shading most people’s views toward anything to do with the media,” said Sam Gill, vice president for communities and impact and special adviser to the president at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Republicans are more likely to view the media as hostile and biased, along with having a deep-seated suspicion toward government involvement in the public discourse, he said.

Local news has suffered over the past two decades as readers and advertisers found alternatives online.