Study: Few Readers Spend Money On Local News

While most Americans believe local news businesses are stable, few people have actually spent money to support local news in the past year, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Some 71% of the nearly 35,000 people surveyed “think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially."

But just 14% of say they "have paid for local news in the past year, either through subscription, donation or membership."

"There's really a disconnect there between the public's knowledge and understanding about the industry and how it's functioning, compared with what we see in headlines day in and day out about budget cuts and revenue declines," Pew's director of journalism research Amy Mitchell told Nieman Lab.



According to a University of North Carolina report, about 1,800 newspapers have shuttered in the U.S. in the last 15 years.

Most Americans think TV represents local news, and 77% of those surveyed say TV is doing “very” or “somewhat well” financially. Also, 64% say the same about print.

People who prefer print are more likely to pay for news, according to the survey.

The biggest reason people don’t pay for local news, according to the survey, is the availability of free content (49%). Most Americans surveyed get their local news from TV and online (41% and 37%, respectively), while 13% get their local news from  newspapers and 8% from radio.

Weather was found to be the most important daily information for those surveyed (70%), followed by crime (44%), traffic (41%) and news about changing prices (37%).

Earlier this month, Facebook reported it couldn’t find enough local news to spotlight in its new, dedicated aggregation section, “Today In.” 

Yet, one in three Facebook users reside in a “news desert,” according to the company, with little or no local reporting available to those communities.

Google announced this week a new initiative called Local Experiments Project, which will fund local news websites across the country. Its first partner is newspaper publisher McClatchy.
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