Originally published: April 12, 2012
Last updated: April 19, 2012 - 2:57pm
Nearly three quarters (72%) of adults are quite attached to following local news and information, and local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need. In fact, local news enthusiasts are substantially more wedded to their local newspapers than others.
They are much more likely than others to say that if their local newspaper vanished, it would have a major impact on their ability to get the local information they want. This is especially true of local news followers age 40 and older, who differ from younger local news enthusiasts in some key ways. One-third of local news enthusiasts (32%) say it would have a major impact on them if their local newspaper no longer existed, compared with just 19% of those less interested in local news. Most likely to report a major impact if their newspaper disappeared are local news followers age 40 and older (35%), though even among younger local news followers 26% say losing the local paper would have a major impact on them. In contrast, just 19% of adults who do not follow local news closely say they would feel a major impact and fully half (51%) say they would feel no impact at all from the loss of their local paper. Only 34% of local news enthusiasts feel this way. These local news and information consumers stand out from other adults in several respects related to community attachment, general interest in all types of news, use of sources for local news and information, and the particular topics of interest to them on the local scene. As a whole, local news enthusiasts do not stand out from other adults in their use of technology or in the way they use technology to participate in local affairs, such as sending around links or posting comments on websites. However, among local news enthusiasts there are considerable differences in technology use across generations.
These are among the main findings in a nationally representative phone survey of 2,251 adults by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It focused on the ways people get information and news about 16 different topics, ranging from breaking news to weather to crime to schools information. The survey was administered from January 12-25, 2011 on landline and cell phones. It has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
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