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The combination of local news outlets being bought out by bigger media conglomerates and the ever-present influence of social media in helping spread news seems to have created a new phenomenon, according to a new study: Issues of importance to local audiences are being drowned out in favor of harder-hitting news pieces with national relevance.

The study, published last week in Digital Journalism, was conducted by Benjamin Toff and Nick Mathews, two researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The idea for this research evolved partially because of the treasure trove of data available on the website CrowdTangle, and Toff and Mathews wanting to make use of that. “It occurred to us together that we could use [CrowdTangle] data to examine the degree to which local media engages with readers on social media platforms,” Toff said, adding that the idea took off from there.

The combined effect: Local news, especially of topics that don’t rise to national importance, may be lost in the shuffle.

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