May 14, 2012

Most Americans Follow Local News Closely

72%

Nearly three quarters (72%) of adults say they closely follow local news and information, and local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of adults are local news enthusiasts, following subjects such as weather, breaking news, politics, crime and schools/education. This group is more likely than other adults to follow 12 out of 16 local news topics asked about in a survey conducted by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For 14 of these 16 topics, the local newspaper is local news enthusiasts’ preferred source of information (or tied at the top with another source). Overall, local television news is the preferred source for just four topics, while the internet is preferred for three of the 16 asked about.

One-third of local news enthusiasts (32%) say it would have a major impact on them if their local newspaper no longer existed, compared with just 19% of those less interested in local news. Most likely to report a major impact if their newspaper disappeared are local news followers age 40 and older (35%), though even among younger local news followers 26% say losing the local paper would have a major impact on them. In contrast, just 19% of adults who do not follow local news closely say they would feel a major impact and fully half (51%) say they would feel no impact at all from the loss of their local paper. Only 34% of local news enthusiasts feel this way.

Younger local news enthusiasts (age 18-39) who are much more digitally connected than both older local news enthusiasts and adults who do not follow local news closely most of the time. For instance, 91% of younger local news followers are internet users, compared with 71% of local news followers age 40 and older, and 82% of adults who do not follow local news closely.

Younger local news enthusiasts (age 18-39) who are much more digitally connected than both older local news enthusiasts and adults who do not follow local news closely most of the time. For instance, 91% of younger local news followers are internet users, compared with 71% of local news followers age 40 and older, and 82% of adults who do not follow local news closely. Read More