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Survey: 83% of Americans trust local news

August 30, 2022

According to a Spectrum News/Morning Consult survey on sentiments about and trust of local news, the vast majority of Americans (87 per cent) are satisfied with the coverage of local news in their community, and 83 per cent find local news coverage on television and radio to be most trustworthy. Overall, sentiment that local news provides people with important information about their community, as well as critical national news, was high, with 77 per cent in agreement. Furthermore, 72 per cent of respondents agreed that local news helps enact positive change in their local community, while 63 per cent feel local news holds businesses and government accountable.

Additionally, the poll found Americans overwhelmingly cited television (48 per cent) as the most important source for local news, and more than half of Americans (62 per cent) watch local news on television daily. 17 per cent of Americans rank social media as the most important news source, and 40 per cent seek local news daily from news apps. Of Americans, 9 per cent rank newspapers as the most important source for local news.

“We have long known that investing in local journalism empowers and strengthens communities, and this poll demonstrates the vital role we play in the communities we serve,” said Mike Bair, Executive Vice President, Spectrum Networks.  “Over the past few years, we have steadily expanded our reach by launching digital newsrooms in more communities and enhancing our Spectrum News App, along with further investments in our existing newsrooms, making local journalism more accessible to the people who want and need it most. The health of our communities—and by extension, our politics, economy, and cultural life – depends on it.”

Additional detailed findings:

Trust in local news is strong; Americans are satisfied with their local news coverage:

  • Eight in 10 Americans find local television, radio and newspapers to be trustworthy. Television and radio are the most trusted (83 per cent), with social media (46 per cent) ranking as the least trustworthy.
  • More than three quarters of Americans (80 per cent) feel satisfied with the choices of news outlets in their area. While the majority look to television for their local news (62 per cent) daily, 42 per cent also get their local news daily from digital news alerts, and 40 per cent of Americans seek local news directly from a news app on their smartphone.
  • In general, people feel more satisfied with their local news coverage because they are more familiar with local anchors in their community, 77 per cent of respondents said they feel reporters who live in their local community are more connected to relevant local news and information, and 82 per cent feel local news reporters are trusted.

Majority of Americans rely on television for local news:

  • Americans rank television as the most important source for local news.  An overwhelming 48 per cent of respondents listed TV as the most important source compared to the second-ranked source, social media at 17 per cent, followed by websites and apps at 14 per cent, while only 9 per cent found newspapers as an important source, with 20 per cent considering it the least important.
  • The vast majority of Americans (91 per cent) appreciate that their cable provider offers a local news channel, with 85 per cent saying they value the local news coverage provided.
  • More than half of Americans (62 per cent) watch local news on television daily, while 55 per cent typically watch national news. Only 19 per cent typically look to their printed local newspaper for news on a daily basis, while 15 per cent seek printed national newspapers.
  • Television is highly viewed as a trusted source for local news on both sides of the political aisle (91 per cent Democrats, 79 per cent Republicans), while trust in social media among Democrats drops to 50 per cent, and among Republicans to 44 per cent.

Consumers have a different narrative on the state of local news; Majority of Americans do not feel deprived of news coverage in their area:

  • There is a strong sentiment among Americans (89 per cent) that local news keeps them informed about what is happening in their community, with 80 per cent of respondents in agreement that they have access to local news coverage.
  • Nearly nine in 10 Americans are satisfied with the local news coverage in their area, while 83 per cent say they are satisfied with the quality of local news coverage they currently receive, and 81 per cent feel satisfied with the amount of coverage.
  • The poll also looked at the extent to which “news deserts” impact consumers, finding that 54 per cent of Americans do not feel they reside in a “news desert,” and even those who feel they live in a “news desert” do not feel worse about the quality of the coverage (76 per cent) or that they do not have enough coverage in their area (71 per cent).
  • Overall satisfaction for local news coverage is very strong among those who feel they reside in a “news desert” (81 per cent) compared to Americans as a whole (87 per cent).
  • Familiarity with the academic term “news desert” is low, with 60 per cent of Americans having never heard of the term. While 17 per cent of respondents said they are familiar with the term, only 3 per cent said they are extremely familiar.

Categories: Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Markets, Research

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