Thursday, November 02, 2006

Do people need local news?

A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted a study that shows the percentage of local TV news viewers going down over about a ten year period (from 77% in 1993 to 59% in 2004). I know that the rise in other news outlets (cable, internet, etc.) has contributed to this decline, but why are people really straying from local news? Is it because they don't need it?

Maybe they can get all their important information from different sources and avoid the local news. You can get the sports from ESPN, weather from the Weather Channel, and any quick updates from a national 24 hour cable news outlet.

One might argue that as a citizen you need to know weather and traffic, but beyond that, what does local news really add to their lives? Yes, people should care about city council meetings, local shootings, and the rest, but the reality is a great majority just finds it all a little depressing. Especially those viewers that find themselves in the 18-24 age group.

In 1994, 18-24 year olds spent about 51 minutes on average with the news each day. In 2004, it was only 35 minutes (Pew Research Center). I did a survey last year and students said they did not like hearing about murders and other things that made them sad.

What can the local news do better to make these people care about their city, town, or whatever it may be?

To find more statistics from the Pew Research Center,click here.



At Thursday, November 02, 2006, Anonymous aj said...

Good question. On some level, I don't think local news can do much to make people want to watch. Our society seems to have lost respect for good ol' fashioned journalism, and a great newscast can't get that back.

As for the fact that so much news is depressing, we can't help what's in the news--murders, robberies, terrorism, etc. should be top stories even if they depress people. But maybe we can make a concerted effort to find and tell the positive stories on a regular basis.

At Friday, November 03, 2006, Anonymous AL said...

"It's a small world after all..."

Besides having the tune stuck in my head right now, the lyrics are true due to technology among other factors. It's still a big world, but people and information get moved around faster than ever yet. This is one of the reasons local news gets pushed down.

However, at the end of the day, if you only know what's going on thousands of miles away and not just around your street corner, then what's the point? What do you relate it to?

How does it relate to you and to your community? And how does your community fit into the larger picture? If your local news isn't there to monitor, inform and advocate, then will national news?


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