Local and regional news are often said to simply subsist in the shadows of bigger media organizations dominating the news market. According to the Digital News Report 2021 conducted by Reuters Institute in 46 markets worldwide, survey participants still rely on locally produced content when it comes to specific local topics.
As our chart shows, an average of two thirds of the total respondents in 38 markets still thought of local newspapers, TV or radio stations as the most important source for local announcements and crime reports. Economy, politics and sports were also among the topics that participants in the yearly survey placed firmly in the ballpark of local reporting. When it comes to information about the coronavirus, traffic or even the weather, respondents tended to look towards other sources of information though. For example, 50 percent thought that social media, search engines or other internet sites and apps were the best avenues for staying up to date on local traffic developments. In this specific case, this could be attributed to the rise in the functionality of apps like Google Maps showing traffic jams and accidents in real-time.
When looking at specific markets, these numbers tend to vary wildly depending on the strength of the local news media landscape. In Norway, 82 percent of respondents said that local reporting was the best way to stay on top of local politics, while in Chile, only 47 percent had the same opinion. The U.S. with its strong network of local TV stations, on the other hand, showed 67 percent and 60 percent favoring reporting from the corresponding area when it comes to politics and coronavirus developments, respectively. Overall, 44 percent of respondents said they trust most news most of the time – an increase of six percent compared with the previous year that can possibly be attributed to reliable coronavirus coverage.