How community engagement translates to success for local news

New Pew research finds news consumers rate their local news outlets higher if they believe the journalists are connected to the community.

 

For Local News, Americans Embrace Digital but Still Want Strong Community Connection
Pew Research Center
March 26

In its most recent report, Pew Research Center highlights the importance of authentic community connections for news outlets. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents said it is very or somewhat important for local journalists to understand the community’s history, and 81 percent said the same for journalists to be personally engaged in the local community. However, a third of Americans said journalists are out of touch — showing a disconnect.

“Community residents who see their local journalists as connected to the area give their local news media far higher ratings than those who do not,” researchers said. “For example, those who say journalists are in touch with their community are 31 percentage points more likely to say their local media do a good job of dealing fairly with all sides.”

Researchers found a similar difference in respondents’ views on whether their local news media reports news accurately, are transparent about their reporting and include diverse sources (“people like you”) in their stories.

Key Numbers

  • Less than a quarter (21 percent) of respondents said they have spoken with a local journalist.
  • Just 14 percent of respondents said they’ve paid for local news in the past year.
  • Of those who said journalists are in touch with their community, 74 percent said their local news outlets are transparent about their reporting. However, just 43 percent of those who said journalists are out of touch believe the same.

Study Details

  • Nearly 35,000 U.S. adults participated in the survey through the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP) and Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel.
  • Data was collected between Oct. 15 and Nov. 8, 2018.