Study: 7 in 10 local news readers wouldn't greatly miss their hometown paper

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project

Pew's latest report, a deep dive into the characteristics of people who closely follow local news, is one of those glass-half-full/half-empty situations. Pew reports:

Nearly three quarters (72%) of adults are quite attached to following local news and information, and local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need. In fact, local news enthusiasts are substantially more wedded to their local newspapers than others.

The report goes on to say that 32 percent of these people say the disappearance of their local paper would have a major impact on their lives. Among people who aren't that interested in local news, about half say their lives wouldn't change at all if they didn't have a local paper. Good, for newspapers, right?

But look at it another way: That means 68 percent of local news enthusiasts don't believe the disappearance of their local paper would affect their lives in a major way. And 34 percent of such enthusiasts say the disappearance wouldn't affect their lives at all.

This likely reflects local news enthusiasts' reliance on TV; Pew reports that 80 percent of them use broadcast TV on a weekly basis, compared to 48 percent for newspapers, 52 percent for radio and 57 percent for "word of mouth." TV was also the preferred source for weather and breaking news, the two issues local news enthusiasts follow most closely.

Then there's the issue of paying for news.

Glass half full:

Local news enthusiasts are twice as likely as other adults (38% v. 19%) to have a paid subscription for delivery of a local print newspaper, led almost entirely by the 46% of older local news enthusiasts who currently pay for this service. ...

Glass half empty: 72 percent of local news junkies say they wouldn't pay for online access to their newspaper. Most of the rest, 23 percent, would pay $5 or $10 a month. At least that's greater than those who don't closely follow local news.

Other findings:

  • Adults who follow local news closely skew older, female, African-American, politically conservative and religious.
  • "Local news consumers are more connected to their communities than others ... and more likely to think they can improve their communities."
  • They rely on more sources of news than people who don't follow local news closely, particularly the youngest among them.

Earlier: Americans rely on newspapers for local coverage of crime, community events, governmentMore Americans now follow local, national news closely; teens, adults both rely most on TV for news || Related: Cable tops local TV news as source of campaign, election information.

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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