Pew Study: Local TV Still Go-To News Source

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

That is according to a just-released study of local news in the digital age (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, of 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 about two-thirds of of the remainder was short anchor reads rather than longer stories.

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, there were nine different TV stations offering all together 25 hours per weekday of news (the study did not measure weekends), including two in Spanish.

The study was actually 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), a review of site visits and interviews, an analysis of Facebook/Twitter posts, and information on selecting the cities.

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.