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Americans’ Changing Relationship With Local News

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the changing local news landscape in the United States, including:

  • A growing preference for online sources of local news over traditional TV and print media
  • A decline in the share of Americans closely following local news, mirroring a decline in attention to national news
  • Positive views of local news organizations and journalists, though with some political divides
  • Challenges facing the local news industry, including financial difficulties and declining readership of local newspapers

🙋 Q&A

[01] Americans' Views of Local News Organizations

1. What are the key findings about Americans' views of local news organizations?

  • The vast majority of U.S. adults (85%) say local news outlets are at least somewhat important to the well-being of their local community, including 44% who say local journalism is extremely or very important.
  • About seven-in-ten U.S. adults (69%) say that local journalists in their area are mostly in touch with their community, up from 63% in 2018.
  • Most Americans say their local news organizations are doing well at reporting news accurately (71%), covering the most important stories (68%), being transparent (63%), and keeping an eye on local political leaders (61%).
  • Views toward local news are not as politically polarized as Americans' opinions about the news media overall. While Republicans are not quite as positive as Democrats, most Republicans still say the local media in their area are doing their jobs well.

2. How do Americans' views of local news organizations compare to their views of news organizations in general?

  • Americans have relatively positive views of local news organizations compared to how they see news organizations more broadly. For example, fewer than half of U.S. adults say that news organizations in general do a very or somewhat good job of covering the most important stories, reporting the news accurately, and serving as a watchdog over elected leaders.

[02] Declining Attention to Local News

1. What are the key findings about Americans' attention to local news?

  • The share of Americans who say they follow local news very closely has fallen by 15 percentage points since 2016 (from 37% to 22%).
  • Most U.S. adults still say they follow local news at least somewhat closely (66%), but this figure has also dropped in recent years.
  • This trend of declining attention is not unique to local news - Americans' attention to national and international news has also declined.

[03] The Changing Local News Landscape

1. How are the ways Americans access local news changing?

  • Fewer people now say they prefer to get local news through a television set (32%, down from 41% in 2018).
  • Americans are now more likely to say they prefer to get local news online, either through news websites (26%) or social media (23%).
  • Local television stations are still the most common source of local news, but the share who often or sometimes get news there has declined from 70% to 64%.
  • Online forums, such as Facebook groups or the Nextdoor app, have become a more common destination for local news, with 52% of U.S. adults saying they at least sometimes get local news from these types of forums.
  • The share of Americans who get local news from daily newspapers has declined, from 43% in 2018 to 33% in 2024. Local daily newspapers are now more likely to be accessed online than in print.

2. How are local TV news and local newspapers being consumed?

  • For local TV news, 62% of those getting news from local TV stations do so through a television, compared to 37% who do so through digital pathways.
  • For local newspapers, 66% of those who get news from daily newspapers do so digitally, while only 31% do so via print.

[04] The Financial State of Local News

1. What are the key findings about the financial state of local news?

  • A majority of Americans (63%) say they think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially, though this is a slightly more pessimistic view than in 2018 when 71% said their local outlets were doing well.
  • Just 15% of Americans say they have paid or given money to any local news source in the past year, a number that has not changed much since 2018.
  • The most common reason people give for not paying for local news is that they can find plenty of free local news, although young adults are more inclined to say they just aren't interested enough in local news to pay for it.

[05] The Role of Local Journalists

1. What are Americans' views on the role of local journalists?

  • A majority of Americans (69%) say local journalists should remain neutral on community issues, reflecting more traditional journalistic norms.
  • However, 29% say that local journalists should be advocating for change in their communities.
  • Younger adults are the most likely to favor advocacy by journalists, with 39% of those ages 18 to 29 saying local journalists should push for change.

[06] Community Attachment and Local News

1. How does community attachment relate to engagement with local news?

  • Americans who feel a strong sense of connection to their community are more likely to engage with local news, say that local news outlets are important to the community, and rate local media more highly overall.
  • For example, 66% of those who say they are very attached to their community say local news outlets are extremely or very important to the well-being of their local community, compared with 46% of those who are somewhat attached and 31% of those who are not very or not at all attached to their community.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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