Americans prefer to get their local news from a local newspaper, according to a new survey from the National Newspaper Association.
One-third of the respondents to the poll said they will choose a newspaper to get information about their local community. That figure edged the number of people (30%) who prefer television, either cable or local stations, for their local news.
The internet lags far behind those two media, with only 11% expressing a preference for online local news. Social media and radio bring up the rear with 5% each.
While the survey did not report the ages of respondents, 30% have been reading their local newspaper for more than 30 years. The age range tends to skew toward older people, based on the survey’s report of years reading the paper:
- Fewer than five years – 14%
- More than five but fewer than 10-16%
- More than 10 years but fewer than 20-22%
- More than 20 years but less than 30-18%
“The reason people stick with their local paper is because they want to know about what is going on in their community,” says Stan Schwartz, the NNA’s director of communications.
The numbers support that conclusion, with 84% of survey-takers saying they read their local paper for local news, information and obituaries. Only 2% read them for state and federal news.
The survey indicates that the local newspaper is an important part of people’s lives, according to Schwartz. Seventy-five percent of the respondents said they look forward to reading their paper. Large majorities said the local paper is entertaining (67%) and informative (89%).
While the survey provides some positive news for local newspapers, when the topic turns to a discussion of online news, the results are far from encouraging. A mere 12% of survey-takers said they pay to read the paper’s content from its website. And they are not willing to pay for online access: sixty-four percent indicated they would not be willing to pay for access to news if the paper charged for online access to support its newsgathering.
The NNA retained Susquehanna Polling and Research, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to conduct the survey. The company contacted 1,000 households across the country in March and April of this year.