TV News Top Local Info Source

September 26, 2011

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Broadcast & Cable | Data-driven | Media & Entertainment | Newspapers | Radio | Youth & Gen X

pew-sources-frequency-sep-2011.JPGAbout three-quarters (74%) of US adults say they get local information at least once a week from a local TV news broadcast and/or website of a local TV station, according to a study released in September 2011 by 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. This is about 35% more than the 55% of adults who get local information from the number two source, word-of-mouth.

Radio, including broadcast and website (51%) and TV, including broadcast and website (50%) follow closely. Another 47% use the internet, including search, social networks, local blogs and/or sites. Only 9% get local information from a print newsletter about their community, with African-Americans most likely to use this source.

Age Strongly Influences Source Choice

pew-top-sources-age-sep-2011.JPGWhile there are a variety of demographic dimensions that are linked to the way people get local news and information, Pew analysis finds the most striking is the difference between younger and older information consumers. Simply put, one generation into the web, older consumers still rely more heavily on traditional platforms while younger consumers rely more on the internet. Among adults younger than 40, the web ranks first or ties for first for 12 of the 16 local topics asked about.

If someone is under age 40, they tend to get the following kinds of local news and information from the following places:

  • Internet: Weather, politics, crime, arts/cultural events, local businesses, schools, community events, restaurants, traffic, taxes, housing, local government, jobs, social services, and zoning/development.
  • Newspapers: Crime, arts/cultural events, community events, taxes, local government, jobs, social services, zoning/development .
  • TV stations: Weather, breaking news, politics, crime, traffic, local government, and social services.
  • Radio: Traffic.
  • Word of mouth: Community events.

If they are 40 or older, they tend to get the following kinds of news in the following places:

  • Newspapers: Politics, crime, arts/cultural events, local businesses, schools, community events, restaurants, taxes, housing and real estate, government activities, jobs, zoning/development, social services.
  • TV stations: Weather, breaking news, politics, traffic, crime.
  • Internet: Local businesses, restaurants.

Most Adults Use 3 or More Types Local Media

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, and 15% rely on at least six different kinds of media weekly. And nearly half of all American adults, 45%, say they do not even have a favorite local news source. Instead, in the modern local news information system, different media outlets, and in many cases entire platforms, are gaining footholds for specific topic areas.

Other Findings

  • The most popular local topics are weather (89% of people get it), breaking news (80%); local politics (67%) and crime (66%). The least popular on our list of topics are zoning and development information (30%), local social services (35%), job openings (39%) and local government activities (42%).
  • Nearly half of adults (47%) use mobile devices to get local news and information. Not surprisingly, mobile is particularly popular for “out and about” categories of information, such as restaurants. And 41% of all adults can be considered “local news participators” because they contribute their own information via social media and other sources, add to online conversations, and directly contribute articles about the community. Both these groups are substantially more likely than others to use the internet to get local news and information on almost all topics.
  • Social media is becoming a factor in how people learn about their local community, but it is not as popular as other digital forms. In all, 17% of adults say they get local information on social networking sites like Facebook at least monthly.
  • Mobile phone apps have yet to emerge for most local topic areas. Even now, though, 5% of Americans say they rely on a mobile app for weather information.
  • Old-fashioned word of mouth is still a factor in sharing local news and information, especially at the neighborhood level for information about local businesses, restaurants and schools. In all 55% of all adults get local news and information via word of mouth at least once a week. Word of mouth is particularly likely to be cited by younger residents as one of their top platforms for community events. Adults age 40 and older are more likely to prefer word of mouth as a source for local politics, local government activity, housing and real estate, zoning, and social services.
  • The websites of newspapers and TV stations do not score highly as a relied-upon information source on any topics. They have gained modest footholds as sources that users rely upon for a variety of topics, including weather information, crime, politics, and breaking news, but overall they consistently score in the low single digits when it comes to being the source that people rely upon on any of the topics Pew queried.

Harris: 8 in 10 Won’t Pay for Online Daily

Eight in 10 US adults are willing to pay “nothing” per month to read a daily newspaper’s content online, according to an Adweek/Harris Poll conducted in March 2011. Of the one in five who would pay, 14% said they would pay between $1 and $10 per month while very few said that they would be willing to pay between $11 and $20 (4%) or more than $20 per month (2%).

About the Data: This survey was administered from January 12-25, 2011 among a nationally-representative sample of 2,251 adults age 18 and older on landline and cell phones.

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