Monday, September 26, 2011

For 69% of Americans Local Newspapers Not Important

PEW Research Center does a couple of reverses in its analysis of the importance of local newspapers for local news.

First, PEW reports that 69% of Americans say they would not miss or not much miss their local newspaper if it disappeared.
". . . when asked, “If your local newspaper no longer existed, would that have a major impact, a minor impact, or no impact on your ability to keep up with information and news about your local community?” a large majority of Americans, 69%, believe the death of their local newspaper would have no impact (39%) or only a minor impact (30%) on their ability to get local information."
Then PEW notes the contrary point that local newspapers take the top spot in 11 of 16 subject areas.
"Yet when asked about specific local topics and which sources they rely on for that information, it turns out that many adults are quite reliant on newspapers and their websites. Of the 16 specific local topics queried, newspapers ranked as the most, or tied as the most, relied upon source for 11 of the 16."
But, it turns out that the 11 local topics that newspapers won are not topics that most people are interested (e.g., zoning and social services).
"The problem for newspapers is that many of these topics are followed by a relatively small percentage of the public. As noted in Part 2 of this report, just 30% of adults get information about zoning, 35% about social services, 42% about local government, and 43% about real estate. Thus, overall, the total number of Americans who rely on newspapers for the local information that matters to them is smaller than is the case for other platforms such as television."
The cloud gets darker for newspapers with those under 40, where newspapers are the top source for only one area of information: taxes.
"For adults under age 40, newspapers do not hold nearly the same appeal. Consider this stark difference: among all adults, newspapers are the clear top source for seven local topics (and tied with the internet as the top source for four other topics). Yet, among adults under 40 newspapers are the clear top choice for one topic, taxes, are tied with TV news for another topic, crime, and tie with the internet for four other topic areas."

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