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Pew research: Deep analysis of three local news ecologies

by: Michele McLellan |

A new report from Pew Research Center does a deep dive into the news ecologies of three places – Denver, Colo.; Macon, Georgia; and Sioux City, Iowa.

While the findings cannot be extrapolated nationally, the report provides insights into the changing nature of news providers and the ways news is consumed in the digital environment in three distinctly different communities.

The study, “Local News in a Digital Age,” is complex. The research, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, included surveys of residents, audits of news providers, content and social media analysis, and site visits and interviews in each community

Findings include: 

High interest in local news. Across three disparate metro areas in the U.S., nearly nine-in-ten residents follow local news closely—and about half do so very closely,” the study found. As well, about two-thirds in each locality said they discuss local news in person at least once a week.

Race and ethnicity matter. “The analysis finds race and ethnicity to be one of the greatest divides in news habits. Hispanics in Denver and blacks in Macon closely follow local and neighborhood news at higher rates than their white counterparts.”

Significant online and mobile news consumption. In each locality, significant percentages of residents access news on digital devices at least sometimes – Denver – 71 percent, Macon and Sioux City – each 59 percent.  Nearly half of Denver residents consider the internet “very important” in keeping up with the news. In Macon the figure is 38 percent; Sioux City, 33 percent.

Proliferation of news providers. While local television and newspapers continue to set the news agenda, a variety of specialty news providers is emerging, especially in the large metropolitan area of Denver. The study identified 143 – including 25 online-only, in Denver; 24 in Macon and 31 in Sioux City.

“The data reveal that having a greater number of news providers offers a second tier of coverage, especially around more issue-based and enterprising news, and to a certain degree lessens the reliance on large legacy outlets,” the report said.






Michele McLellan

Michele McLellan is a writer, editor and consultant who works on projects that help strengthen the emerging local news ecosystem,
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