Black Folks and Seniors Top Out in Local-News Study

(CN) — In a study that says the over-50 set is more than twice as likely to follow local news, the Pew Research Center reported strong correlations as well Wednesday with race and education.

Researchers observed the trends while diving deeper into the demographics of March survey. Of all groups surveyed, black respondents showed the highest interest in local news — 46% as compared with white (26%) and Hispanic respondents (34%).

Chart showing that older Americans, black adults and Americans with less education are more interested in local news

A similar breakdown appeared among education levels: 36% of those with a background of high school or less reported closely following their local news. Those numbers declined as schooling advanced: 30% among respondents with some college, and 25% percent among those with college degrees.

When it came to age meanwhile, progressively older brackets reported following the news more. Only 15% of adults 18-29 reported to have closely followed their local news as compared with 42% of adults 65 and older.

The report also observed a connection in the pathway viewers chose to watch local news. In every demographic where viewership was highest, so too was the preference for a television set, rather than an internet connection, in consuming local news.

Reflecting on the survey, Felix Gutierrez, a retired professor from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, noted Wednesday that local news may appeal more to minority groups because the issues hit closer to home.

“Blacks and Hispanics are more interested in bread-and-butter basic issues that affect their lives: crime, traffic, jobs, education, prices, etc. These are locally-focused issues,” Gutierrez said in an email. “Their preference for TV news over digital may also be a factor since that news is packaged and directed to local audiences and don’t require the searching, keyboarding, and sorting it takes to get news online.”

Indeed, the report notes that nearly 60% of blacks and Hispanics list crime as an important issue to be informed about, as compared with only 39% of whites who called this preference important. Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely than whites to say news about local schools or events are more important to them. 

Weather meanwhile was a local news topic that seems to interest Americans equally, regardless of race: about 7 in 10 blacks, whites and Hispanic called news about this topic valuable for daily life. 

For young Americans who show less interest in their local news, the study also found that that this group was less likely to pay for news. Less than 10% of the two youngest age groups said they paid for local news, while 29% of those older than 65 said they had either subscribed, donated or otherwise obtained membership with a local news organization.

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