From Dailies To Digital: Online Overtaking Newspapers, TV For Local News

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A new survey from Pew Research Center is confirming what many of us in the media industry have suspected: the new king of local news is digital.

Almost half (48%) of U.S. adults surveyed said they prefer news sites or social media for getting their local news and information, up from 37% in 2018 and overtaking television (which fell from 41% to 32% in that time). 9% prefer print newspapers (down from 13% in 2018) and an additional 9% prefer radio (up from 8%).

(Source: Pew Research Center)

“Newspapers are no longer primarily consumed as a print product — the majority of readers of local daily newspapers now access them digitally,” writes the Pew Research Center authors of the 26% who specifically prefer a news site or app.

33% of respondents said they get news from a daily newspaper — be it via print, online, or social media — down 10 points from 2018 and ‘putting newspapers on par with government agencies as a source of local news.”

“Among those who get news from local daily newspapers, just 31% access it primarily via their print version,” the research says. “About two-thirds of those who get news from local daily papers (66%) primarily access them online, including 41% who say they use websites or apps and 25% who say they use social media.”

Overall, 44% said local journalism was either extremely or very important to their community, with an additional 41% saying it was somewhat important. Only 15% have paid for local news in the last year, yet 63% believe their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially.

“Americans’ reasons for not paying for local news vary based on age,” the research says. “Among U.S. adults ages 30 and older who have not paid for local news in the past year, the most common reason they cite is that they can find plenty of free local news. But the most common reason given by Americans ages 18 to 29 is a lack of interest.”


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