May 24, 2024

The landscape of local news consumption in the United States is undergoing significant transformation. Pew Research Center’s recent report sheds light on how Americans are engaging with local news and the shifts in their preferences and habits.

The Digital Takeover

One of the most notable trends is the increasing preference for digital news sources over traditional media. While local television once dominated as the primary source for local news, more Americans are now turning to online platforms. This shift is largely driven by the convenience and accessibility of digital news, which offers real-time updates and a broader range of sources.

The rise of smartphones and social media has further accelerated this trend, with many people relying on these tools for quick access to news. The ability to customize news feeds and receive instant notifications makes digital platforms particularly appealing to younger audiences.

Decreasing Engagement

Despite the convenience of digital news, overall engagement with local news is on the decline. Fewer Americans are regularly following local news stories, and there's a noticeable drop in the frequency with which people check local news updates.

Several factors contribute to this disengagement. The fragmentation of media consumption, where audiences are spread across numerous platforms and sources, can dilute the impact of any single news outlet. Additionally, the overwhelming volume of information available online can make it challenging for local news to capture and retain attention.

The Perceived Value of Local News

Interestingly, even as engagement drops, many Americans still recognize the importance of local news. They acknowledge its role in keeping communities informed about essential issues such as local government actions and public safety concerns. Local news is also valued for fostering a sense of community and connectedness.

This contrast—valuing local news while not actively engaging with it—highlights a complex relationship. It suggests that while people appreciate the concept of local journalism, they might not always prioritize it in their daily media consumption habits.

Financial Struggles

Another critical aspect highlighted by the report is the financial challenges facing local news organizations. With declining revenues from traditional advertising and subscriptions, many local news outlets are struggling to sustain operations. However, public awareness of these financial difficulties is relatively low. Few Americans are aware of the economic pressures on local news, and even fewer contribute financially to support it.

The reluctance to pay for local news is a significant hurdle. While there is a general expectation that news should be freely accessible, this expectation does not align with the financial realities of producing quality journalism. To address this gap, news organizations may need to find innovative ways to communicate their value and necessity to the public.

Great Area to Garner Local Response

From a marketing standpoint, Marketing Keys has found that buying local news is an excellent area to garner response for our advertisers. It is an area that is watched live (not DVRed). Also, there are still many eyeballs throughout the day watching the content. Investing in early morning news and early evening is also a very efficient way to go.

Cate Bender, the author, is Project Coordinator of Marketing Keys

Posted on:

May 24, 2024