According to a report released today by Pew Research Center titled “Local News in a Digital Age,” nearly nine in 10 residents across three metro areas studied (Denver, Macon, Ga., and Sioux City, Iowa) follow local news closely. However, the supply of local news and how residents consume and engage with local news varies quite a bit between cities, which vary dramatically by population size and demographics.
The report marks the latest installment in a series of research Knight Foundation has funded with Pew exploring journalism and media in the digital age. It is one of the deepest examinations performed to date of local media ecosystems, and the research provides themes to extrapolate from when considering the evolving state of news in cities across the country.
As we know from other research of the news industry, legacy media institutions, including local television stations and daily newspapers, have reduced their resources committed to covering local news over the past decade. This report found a richer network of local news providers exists in Denver compared to the two smaller markets. (According to Pew, the 2009 closing of The Rocky Mountain News “acted as a catalyst for numerous digital media startups”; over 140 news providers were identified in Denver compared to closer to 30 in the other two cities). In turn far fewer Denver residents rely on traditional media organizations for their local news. For example, only 23 percent of Denver residents often get news from The Denver Post compared to 40 percent of Sioux City residents who often get news from the Sioux City Journal.