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The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project released a report yesterday that may ring an alarming bell for the radio industry. At the same time the data may provide radio managers with an opportunity to see what they can improve upon; live and local. The study of 2,200 people concluded that, while more than half of those surveyed say they turn to radio to get community information on a weekly basis, radio comes in 3rd place when residents want local information. Pew Research Director Lee Rainey tells Radio Ink consumers are using 3 to 4 different platforms to get local information because they can no longer depend on just one source.


Rainey says "Overall, the picture revealed by the data is that of a richer and more nuanced ecosystem of community news and information than researchers have previously identified." The survey also yields some striking findings for newspapers. Most Americans (69%) say that 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.

The data show that newspapers play a much bigger role in people’s lives than many may realize. 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. But most of these topics—many of which relate to civic affairs such as government—taxes, etc., are ones followed by fewer Americans on a regular basis. In other words, 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.

In all, the data in a new national survey show that the majority (64%) 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. And nearly half of all American adults, 45%, say they do not even have a favorite local news source. Instead, in the modern local news information system, different media outlets, and in many cases entire platforms, are gaining footholds for specific topic areas.


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