Pew: Minorities More Interested in Local News

Published: 13 March 2015

Country: US

Pew_Local_News_in_a_Digital_Age_StudyThe Pew Research Center published a report analysing the way local news are consumed in three distinct metropolitan areas in the United States: Denver, Macon and Sioux City. The study Local News in a Digital Age shows that nearly nine-in-ten residents follow local news closely, but also that minorities such as African-Americans in Macon and Hispanics in Denver follow local news more intently than the white people do. The study also suggests that some populations are more engaged with their local news stream, and that this holds across a broader range of topics.

The most recent Pew study proved that local newsrooms and especially local digital news entrepreneurs should to do more to meet the diverse needs of their communities.

‘The Pew report found that race and ethnicity are “one of the greatest divides in news habits.” In Denver and Macon people of color follow community news at higher rates than white residents. In Denver, the researchers found 9 outlets specifically serving the Hispanic community there, whereas in Macon they found only one newsroom serving the large African American community. The report didn’t assess how the other mainstream outlets are serving these communities but they did find that amongst the entire population, only 18% of Denver residents and 21% of Macon residents are satisfied with the local media ecosystem,’ says  Josh Stearns of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

For him, one of the key findings is this huge gulf between people’s high level of interest in local news and their low satisfaction in local news. ‘Our communities crave access to relevant, timely, useful local information and news but right now our local news ecosystems are not meeting that need. Closing that gap has to begin with creating local media that better reflects the diversity of our communities. But it also calls on us to think more broadly about the services we provide,’ says Stearns.

‘Some journalists and news media executives see diversity as a nice thing to achieve if you can, but don’t see it as an economic opportunity. The Pew study, though, shows that opportunity,’ wrote journalist Steve Buttry.

He believes that in the community with large minorities’ presence, news organizations have an opportunity to increase their audience with these segments of their communities if they:

  • Successfully reflect the diversity of the community in their coverage
  • Provide quality coverage of issues of interest to the community
  • Succeed in recruiting and retaining diverse news staffs’

Contrary to received wisdom about the”digital divide,” writes Rick Edmonds for Poynter, ‘minorities are as likely as the white population to own smart-phones and use them to locate news.  So if anything, digital transformation, particularly social media options, may be making it easier to follow the news than in the days when newspapers and local TV were the only game going’.

The complete Pew study can be found in the Media Diversity Institute Resources Section.