September 28, 2011

Americans Learn About Their Communities Through an ‘Ecosystem’ of Local News

64%

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of American adults use at least three different types of media every week to get news and information about their local community.

A new national survey shows that the majority (64%) of American adults use at least three different types of media every week to get news and information about their local community; 15% rely on at least six different kinds of media weekly. Nearly half of all American adults (45%) say they do not have a favorite local news source. Instead, in today’s local news ecosystem, different media outlets, and in many cases entire platforms, are gaining footholds for specific topic areas. Where people turn for information varies considerably depending on the subject matter and their age.

Newspapers are the top source for news on community events, taxes, local government, arts and culture, social services, zoning and development. Television is the top source for weather and breaking news. Radio ties with TV as the top source for traffic news. The internet is the top source for information about restaurants and other local businesses.

While there are a variety of demographic dimensions that are linked to the way people get local news and information, the most striking is the difference between younger and older information consumers. Older consumers still rely more heavily on traditional platforms while younger consumers rely more on the internet. Among adults under the age of 40, the web ranks first (or ties for first) for 12 of the 16 local topics included asked about in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Internet & American Life Project in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Read More