Report: Local News in a Digital Age


Reposted from the Pew Research Center on Journalism & Media:

Whether in a tech-savvy metropolis or a city where the town square is still the communication hub, local news matters deeply to the lives of residents. Across three disparate metro areas in the U.S., nearly nine-in-ten residents follow local news closely—and about half do so very closely, according to a new, in-depth Pew Research Center study, conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. About two-thirds of the residents in each city discuss local news in person a few times a week or more.

During a period of tremendous technological change—change that is far from complete—this study takes a microscope to the information streams in three news environments across the United States: Denver, Colorado—a highly educated urban area of more than 2 million with internet adoption above the national average and a large Hispanic population (19%); Macon, Georgia—a metro area of 175,000 with a substantial share of black residents (41%), an unemployment rate above the national average, and a local university working to serve as a hub for journalism innovation; and Sioux City, Iowa—a city that spans three states and has a predominantly white population of just 125,000. These cities are not meant to be extrapolated to the United States as a whole, but rather serve as a set of case studies on the ebb and flow of daily local news that speak to the diversity of modern American cities.

Across these three cities, the study picks up traces of the start of direct participation in the news process, and at fairly equal levels. No more than 10% in each city have submitted their own local content to a news provider in the past year; about 10% have called in to a local radio or TV show; roughly two-in-ten have commented on a local news blog. But it is in the small metro area of Sioux City where residents are most likely to have spoken with or been interviewed by a local journalist (29%, compared with 23% in Macon and 16% in Denver).

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