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Television And Internet Preferred Avenues For Local News, Most Americans Unaware Of News Outlets’ Financial Struggles

EMILEE LARKIN, Courthouse News Service

Television and the internet are neck and neck for Americans as the preferred outlet for local news, the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday.

The survey involved 34,897 U.S. adults from the Pew’s American Trends Panel and Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel who were polled between Oct. 15 and Nov. 8, 2018.

While 41 percent said they prefer to get their local news through the television, 37 percent selected online.

Newspaper and radio fall low on the scale, with only 13 percent of adults choosing print and 8 percent choosing radio.

To get their local news fix, 38 percent said they looked to local TV stations, while 12 percent looked to online forums and discussions group, and 8 percent looked to churches and school groups. 

About 73 percent said they follow the local news closely, but the study shows that almost half, 47 percent, of Americans are watching a local news that is not mostly about the area they live in, but a nearby city. 

According to the study, Americans speak highly of their local news, and 30 percent say they feel very confident that their main news source gives them the information they need. 

Amy Mitchell, Pew’s director of journalism research, oversaw the study. She noted that Americans are out of touch with the financial stability of their local news: though 71 percent said they believe local news is doing well financially, only 14 percent said they have personally paid for local news. 

“The journalism industry has been struggling for over a decade now to find a revenue structure for the digital era, so it’s a huge challenge for the industry to see such a large share of the public believe that local news media are doing well financially and not participate in the revenue model themselves,” Mitchell said about the study.

The poll shows that 85 percent of Americans find it important for journalists to understand history of the community, and that 81 percent say the news providers should be personally engaged in the community.

Though 63 percent of Americans say their local journalists are in touch with the community, only 21 percent have personally spoken to a local news provider. Also, few find it important for local journalist to be active on social media.

For 70 percent of Americans there is one aspect of their local news that they feel is important for daily life: weather. For about half of Americans government and politics are important, but not for daily life.

This story was originally published by Courthouse News Service here.

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