Pew Study: Local TV Remains Go-To News Source

Local broadcast TV news remains "the single most visible presence in the news space" and still draws a far bigger audience than TV websites.

That is according to a just-released study, Local News in the Digital Age, of print, broadcast and online news outlets in a trio of geographically diverse U.S. markets. The study was conducted by the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The study, which analyzed news outlets in Denver; Macon, Ga.; and Sioux City, Iowa, found that traffic, weather and sports segments accounted for about a third of the airtime on local TV news, and that short anchor reads rather than longer stories comprised about two-thirds of of the remainder.

In fact, brevity was the order of the day in all three markets. Nearly half (45%) of non-sports, weather and traffic stories in Denver were 30 seconds or less, compared with 29% in Sioux City and 17% in Macon. More than 80% of the stories in all the markets were less than two minutes long.

In addition to the legacy mainstream media, the study looked at "neighborhood and community newspapers, ethnic and alternative media outlets, civic organizations, nonprofits and municipal institutions."

The study found that in Denver, nine different TV stations offer 25 hours of news per weekday (the study did not measure weekends), including two hours in Spanish.

The study encompassed six separate studies, an audit of the news landscape (a total of 198 over-three markets were identified), a survey of residents, a content analysis (6,416 stories), site visits and interviews, an analysis of Facebook/Twitter posts and s study to select the cities.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.