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Pew: Americans Rely on Multiple Media for Local Info

October 6, 2011

Though one-half (50%) of Americans read print or Web editions of newspapers for local information at least weekly, more than two-thirds (69%) say the death of their local newspaper would have no impact (39%) or only a minor impact (30%) on their ability to find local information, according to a report by Pew Research.

The Pew findings reflect a media landscape in flux, as well as Americans' growing appetite for multiple news sources: 64% of American adults surveyed say they get their weekly news from three types of media, with 15% reporting that they looked at up to six different media types.

Moreover, nearly one-half of Americans (45%) say they do not even have a favorite local news source.

Below, additional findings from the report titled, "How People Learn About Their Local Community," issued by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism in partnership with John S and James L Knight Foundation.

Tapping a Variety of Media Outlets

Americans consume different kinds of media for different kinds of information. Among all surveyed adults:

  • Television is the preferred medium for breaking news and weather, though TV ties with radio as the top source of traffic news.
  • Newspapers are still the top source for 11 other topics studied by Pew such as local government updates, community events, arts and culture, social services, taxes, zoning news, and crime reports. 
  • The Internet is the top source of information on restaurants and other local businesses.

But even as the Web has gained traction, there is one area where it still lags behind: breaking news. Here, local TV news (which includes local TV websites but is driven almost entirely by broadcasts) still outpaces online sources.

 Among all adults, 55% say they rely on local TV for breaking news, compared with 16% who say they rely on the Internet and 14% who rely on newspapers:

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