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72% of Americans follow local news closely

NEW PEW INTERNET REPORT (full report available at

72% of Americans follow local news closely

Most adults (72%) follow local news closely, and many rely heavily on local newspapers to keep them informed. Yet, younger local news followers differ from their older counterparts in some important ways, potentially signaling changes to come in the local news environment.

Washington (April 12, 2012) – Nearly three quarters of American adults (72%) say they follow local news closely “most of the time, whether or not something important is happening.”  On the whole, these local news enthusiasts are more wedded to their newspapers than others, relying on them for much of their local news and a full third (32%) feeling it would have amajor impact on their ability to get the information they want if their local paper vanished.  Yet, younger local news followers differ from their older counterparts in some important ways, including less reliance on local papers, potentially signaling changes to come in the local news environment.

As a group, local news enthusiasts are more likely than others to prefer newspapers for almost all of 16 topics asked about in the survey—including crime, local politics, community events, arts and culture, local schools, taxes, government activity, restaurants, other local business, housing issues, job openings, and local zoning issues.

While this seems to be positive news for local newspapers, in many cases the reliance on newspapers is heaviest among local news enthusiasts age 40 and older, while younger local news followers rely more heavily on other sources.  Specifically, among local news enthusiasts under age 40, theinternet is the preferred source for eight of the 16 topics asked about, including:

·        Local restaurants, clubs and bars

·        Other local businesses

·        Schools and education

·        Local politics

·        Jobs

·        Housing

·        Arts and cultural events

·        Community or neighborhood events

These are among the main findings in a January 2011 nationally-representative phone survey of 2,251 adults by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“On one hand, the study shows a continuing reliance on local newspapers among a substantial group of adults who like to know what’s happening in their community,” said Kristen Purcell, Pew Internet associate director for research and one of the authors of the report. “Yet equally important is the fact that for younger adults who like to stay tuned in to their communities, the local newspaper is generally not the go-to source.”

The study shows that younger local news enthusiasts rely on a wider variety of sources for their local news each week than their older counterparts, and are much more likely to use a combination of traditional, online and mobile sources to get news and information about their community.

“The youngest local news consumers have more tools in their local news toolkit,” notes Carolyn Miller, a research consultant who co-authored the report.  “They rely on a wider range of sources than older local news consumers, including mobile, social networking sites, search engines, and the websites of local newspapers and television stations.”

Other key findings in the report:

·        Overall, local news enthusiasts skew female, older, African-American, and politically conservative when compared with other adults.

·        While older local news enthusiasts are particularly likely to follow weather, politics, crime, traffic, taxes, local government activity, social services and zoning, younger local news followers are more likely to consume information about job openings and local restaurants, bars and clubs.

·        Local news enthusiasts age 18-39 are much more digitally connected than both older local news enthusiasts and adults who do not follow local news closely, using the internet, cell phones, social networking sites, Twitter, and geolocation services at higher rates than these other groups.

·        Younger local news enthusiasts are also significantly more likely to participate in the digital local news environment, engaging in activities such as sharing links to local news stories, commenting on local news pieces, and posting local news on social networking sites.”


Posted on: April 21, 2012, 7:14 am Category: Uncategorized

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