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Internet fails to dethrone TV news (so far)

Dead-tree rags hold up surprisingly well

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Television news may still be the most popular local-news source for most people in the US, but it's losing ground to internet news and social networking, and in some cases even failing to outpace traditional newspapers.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, although 74 per cent of people turn on the boobtube at least once a week for local news, a full 55 per cent get their information from what the survey refers to as "old-fashioned word of mouth". Around half use local radio or newspapers and 47 per cent use the internet.

On the face of it, these figures look rather good for local TV, but the study also looked into what type of news people use different sources for. There the situation looks a lot worse for the television stations. Local TV is primarily used for breaking news and weather, and ties with radio for traffic reports.

But for news about local services such as restaurants, the internet is the clear winner. Meanwhile, newspapers are still the most-used source for local events, crime reports, cultural events, and tax and local government news, and tie with TV as the top source for local politics. Furthermore, the websites of TV news stations get very little attention.

Local newspapers, while still important, aren’t as loved as they’d like to be. Overall, 69 per cent of respondents said they would see little or no loss in not having a local dead tree publication, and that figure rises with younger users and those with broadband. Those aged 40 or over still seem to be sticking to old media such as newspapers and TV, but among those yet to break the big four-oh, the internet is deemed the most-used source of information in almost all areas, narrowly losing out to TV for weather by three percentage points.

The data from 2,251 adults showed that consumers have become very savvy about the number of news sources to use when trying to find out information about their local communities. Nearly two thirds of people surveyed used at least three primary sources for weekly local news, and 15 per cent used at least six per week. ®

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