Local newspapers: Do you read them anymore?
Seeing as you’re currently visiting EW.com (thanks, by the way!), it’s a safe assumption that you’re not seeking out your local news at the moment. Unless, of course, you live on Wisteria Lane or Redemption Island or you consider Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs a reliable weather prediction source. As it turns out, according to a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center, many of you have changing attitudes — and habits — about how you get your local news.
The report, which was conducted back in January and sampled 2,251 adults aged 18 and older, found that 69 percent of the U.S. population believe “if their local newspaper no longer existed, it would not have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community.” But don’t start collecting donations for a possibly displaced Family Circus just yet: Local newspapers are more of necessity to people’s lives than they thought.
The study also noted that in a given region, local newspapers are the top source for community events, crime, taxes, local government, arts, culture, social services, zoning, and development. Local television news, however, gets bragging rights when it comes to weather and breaking news. (Not to mention the likelihood of winding up on The Soup.) Local TV news continues to be “the most popular news source in America,” but that’s during a time when “64 percent of American adults use at least three different types of media every week to get news and information about their local community,” thanks to social media and mobile devices.
Unsurprisingly, the study finds that younger people don’t use their local newspapers for information, as opposed to those in the 40 years and older demographics. For local news and information, people aged 18-39 tended to use television and the Internet more. But why — besides the assumption that younger people are more tech-savvy — are these adults going to different sources? The Pew study broke it down in these terms: “Local TV draws a mass audience largely around a few popular subjects; local newspapers attract a smaller cohort of citizens but for a wider range of civically oriented subjects.”
As someone who used to work at a newspaper, it distresses me that people are so willing to let their local publications go so easily. No matter how small, they’re still invaluable resources that have a real pulse on what’s going on closest to home. That said — as much as it shames me to say it — I absolutely fall into the young demographic that gets the bulk of their news, local or otherwise, from the Internet. But I still rely on my local paper for one thing: There seems to be no mention in the study of how many people use local news, particularly local newspapers, for sports. I read ESPN.com as much as the next sports fanatic, but I still like to get the local perspective of my home team in the paper. I’ve got to imagine that’s the case for a lot of people who still pick up a paper on the way to work in the morning.
Are these stats surprising to you, PopWatchers? Do you still rely on your local newspaper for information? Or does everything you need on a local level, from movie tickets and times to restaurant information to community events, more accessible and detailed on the Internet and television? Would you miss your local paper if it was gone? Will something like the Kindle be able to revive the local newspaper? Vote and share in the comments section below.