Local News Consumption Strongly Linked To Civic Engagement

Americans who display either a strong civic connection to their community or always vote in local elections are more likely to exhibit stronger local news consumption habits than those who are less civically engaged.

This is according to a new Pew Research study, carried out in conjunction with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, assessing the news consumption habits of American voters.

The report showed those who are more civic-minded have stronger news interest, higher news intake (the variety and tally of news sources they use) and more positive attitudes toward local news organizations.

About 19% of adults who say they are “highly attached to their communities,” show much stronger ties to local news than those who do not feel connected. Roughly 59% of the highly connected are avid followers of local news, twice as much as the unattached (27%).

Of those highly civically engaged in their communities, 44% get news from three or more source types, with that number at 17% for the under-engaged. About 35% of those attached believe that their local media are successful at keeping them informed, with only 13% of unattached voters that think so.

Like those who are highly civically attached to their communities, those who say they always vote in local elections (27% of U.S. adults), show stronger local news consumption than those who do not vote on a regular basis. Every-cycle voters follow local news more closely (52% to 31%), follow more relevant topics to their local communities (45% to 23%) and are more likely to approve of the job local news stations are doing (27% to 18%).

“The study allowed us to explore multiple facets of civic life, as they relate to local news habits. While we see a strong connection between civic engagement and local news habits overall, the relationship is strongest when it comes to voting and community attachment,” said Jesse Holcomb, associate director of research at Pew Research Center.

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