Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Americans’ Changing Relationship With Local News

2. Local news topics

Local news topics range from useful daily information like weather and traffic, to civic information about local government, crime and the economy, to cultural news about the arts and sports.

A bar chart showing many Americans follow news about local weather, crime, traffic and government

Majorities of Americans say they get news at least sometimes about each of these topics, although weather is the only one followed often by most Americans. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say they often get news about local weather – double the share who often consume news about crime, the next most common topic.

Those who pay more attention to local news generally are more likely to follow many of these topics. For example, adults 65 and older are more likely to get news about all of these topics than those ages 18 to 29, reflecting the broader difference between the age groups in attention to local news.

There are other differences that hint at how local news needs vary across the U.S. For instance, Americans who live in urban areas are more likely than those in rural areas to say they often get local traffic news (32% vs. 24%). And parents of children under 18 are about twice as likely as those without young children to often get news about local schools (30% vs. 14%).

Midwesterners are more likely than people in other regions to often get news about local sports (29%, vs. 22% or lower in other regions). And in general, Americans who describe themselves as “very attached” to their local community are more likely to say they often get news about all of these topics, reflecting a more general sense of engagement among those with high levels of community connection.

The survey asked respondents who get news about each topic how satisfied they are with the quality of the news they get in that area.

A bar chart showing most local news consumers are not highly satisfied with the news they get about various topics

Weather is the only topic news consumers are highly satisfied about, with 63% of those who get local news about weather saying they are extremely or very satisfied with the news they get on the topic. Among those who get news about local traffic and sports, just over four-in-ten say they are highly satisfied with the news they get (44% and 43%, respectively).

Only about a quarter of those who consume news about the local economy (26%) or local government and politics (25%) say they are extremely or very satisfied with the quality of this news, although about twice as many respondents in each category say they are somewhat satisfied.

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