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Pew Survey Finds Local TV News More Popular Than Online News; Nation's TV Anchors Relieved

Ron burgundy

The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project conducted a survey to find out how Americans get their news, and the results are actually a bit surprising at times—especially the fact that both local and national TV news are significantly more popular than online news. And yet somehow, nobody seems concerned about the grave threat local news poses to our venerable institution of online news. Wake up, America! Turn off the TV and read this!

Really, though, almost everybody (92%) gets their news from multiple platforms. For 78%, that includes local news; national news (including both cable news like CNN and network broadcast news) comes in at 73%; online news manages 61%; radio sneaks away with 54%; local newspapers snag 50%; and national (non-local) newspapers like USA Today get only 17%.

But the important takeaway here isn't only that local news is extremely popular, it's a continuing movement toward a dissemination of sources. 60% of Americans take advantage of both online and offline news, and even within those platforms, there's a noticeable trending towards a multitude of sources. Online, few (35%) even identify a single favorite news site, and the majority (57%) visit two to five sources online, mostly deciding on "regulars" by age, political party and ideology. That selection of different sources can be read a few different ways; sure, it's an overload of information, without one decisive voice, but it also allows the audience to see events from a few different angles, which is all the better. 70% do find the amount of information available to be "overwhelming," but hardly anyone chooses to restrict themselves, which is telling.

The power of local TV news is pretty interesting, especially since local online news is not particularly popular—most online readers opt for national or international coverage rather than local. But in the big picture, local TV news is still the most popular source in this country.

[Via Pew]

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  • Robin LeBlanc

    I don't understand the point of this article - was it about the fact that people get their news from various sources? Okay, all well and good. But what is the "grave threat that local news .. poses to online .." and then "Local news is ... a movement.. toward a dissemination of sources." Huh?

    Are you talking about news of local interest, or local news stations providing national and world news? Or both?

    The fact that local news is alive and well should be welcome - um - news. As the social capital of our country starts to go from living in silos to becoming connected to each other and their communities once again, knowing what's going on locally is important. Local news sources - whether TV, radio, print or online - are vital to a healthy community.

    And as for this article - needs lots of clarification!

  • Daryle Hier

    Uh, "local" and "national" have NOTHING to do with each other, so yes, national anchors should continue to be concerned with dropping ratings - why would you construe it any other way. On top of that, since Pew leans left, these figures have to be viewed with some doubt since media is mostly monkey see, monkey do liberal lemmings. Where was the survey done? How was the questions asked?

    Let's face it, TV is a dinosaur as we know it. The good thing about this survey is that people are getting their information sources from multiple places and venues - I've preached that for a long time and am glad it is happening.

  • Aly-Khan Satchu

    The Point is that the Consumer is much more Agnostic about the Source. A Closed Garden approach is therefore hardly optimal. It might be a lot more sensible exploring Bundled Packages and Partnerships.

    Aly-Khan Satchu