Survey: Two-thirds of Americans wouldn’t miss their local newspaper if it vanished

Sep 26, 2011   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  No Comments

by David Silverberg

A surprising survey result revealed 69 percent of Americans agreeing with the statement that if their local newspaper no longer existed, it wouldn’t have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project.

The survey further found Americans learn about current affairs from a wide array of sources. The majority (64 percent) 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,” the survey’s press release stated.

A previous report by Pew called State of the Media 2011 discovered “more people said they got news from the web than newspapers. The internet now trails only television among American adults as a destination for news, and the trend line shows the gap closing.”

Worth noting is good old-fashioned talking with your neighbours. Around 55% of all U.S. adults get local news and information via word of mouth at least once a week, the survey revealed. “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.”

Of the 79 percent of Americans who are online, the Internet is the first or second most relied-upon source for 15 of the 16 local topics examined in the survey. Cellphones are fast becoming a preferred platform to read the news: nearly half of adults use mobile devices to get local news and information.

Turning to citizen journalism and community involvement, the Pew study found 41 percent of all adults can be considered “local news participators”, meaning they comment on articles, contribute their own info via social media or write articles about their community.

It’s not all gloomy news for print publishers. The study writes, “Newspapers (both the print and online versions, though primarily print) rank first or tie for first as the source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 different kinds of local information asked about—more topics than any other media source.”

TV news outlets can see a silver lining here too. Breaking news continues to be TV’s bread and butter. “Among all adults, 55 percent say they rely on local TV for breaking news, compared with 16 percent who say they rely on the internet and 14 percent who rely on newspapers,” the survey found.

The results in this Pew report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from January 12 to 25, 2011, among a sample of 2,251 adults, age 18 and older.

Photo courtesy Flickr user (michelle)

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