Local news media organizations play an integral role in informing and educating the public. Like any industry, the key to success in media is innovation; and local news is no exception.
Whether it’s connecting in new ways with younger audiences making up more of their viewership, or evolving presentation and content styles to improve engagement, local media companies must always adapt to fit local consumers’ needs.
To illustrate what local news media organizations can do to improve their offerings, we put together a recap of key local news media statistics from our 2019 Local Media Landscape Study.
Emotional connections are key to reaching a younger audience
*Numbers denote percentage-point variance by generation when asked, “You can get news and information from a variety of sources, such as newscasts, streaming devices, websites, apps, social media, and all the others. Regardless of the form, how important are the following in deciding which source to use?”
When compared to Boomers, Millennials are much more likely to consume their news from a source they deem entertaining and thought-provoking (14% and 11%, respectively). In addition, younger news viewers want their source to provide an emotional connection (12%), as well as embrace modern solutions for presenting their content (8%).
While Boomers prefer news sources that they deem as “unbiased” (17%) and “objective (11%) – preferring to think with their head – Millennials seek out news outlets with their heart, choosing emotion, approachability, and chemistry of brand connection.
As they become an ever-growing percentage of their target market, catering to younger generations is a must for news outlets.
Under-delivering on market needs, yet opportunities to expand local media value proposition abound
When asked how well their station’s brand and content fit the ideals of their market, station leadership, marketing staff and the news staff were all skeptical.
Only 56% percent of station leadership believed their news stations did, and just 49% and 40% of marketing staff and news staff agreed, respectively.
However, there is plenty of room for growth when it comes to the content news stations provide.
When asked which types of content they’d like to see about the area they live in, both Millennials and the expanded demographic of 25-54 years olds agreed that the following topics were of high interest:
- Events/Things to do (42% of Millennials, 39% of 25-54-year-olds)
- How to Save Money (41%, 39%)
- Food and Dining (38%, 35%)
- Outdoor Activities (40%, 35%)
When asked whether or not they should be making content like the topics listed above, as well as other similar topics, 64% of station staff said they agree they need to create more of this type of content. Another 66% said that they were very interested in making this content.
The future of local media is daunting, but change is necessary
Just 33% of news staffers feel their newscasts are “fresh and modern.” When asked whether they think their station understands what it needs to do to be successful in the future, marketing and news staff are skeptical, with just 51% and 48% agreeing with that statement, respectively.
Leadership is a bit more confident, but many have their doubts as well; 60% agreed with that statement.
One of the keys to successful innovation within the local news media landscape and creating an emotional connection is through social platforms.
Today, a whopping 81% of 25-54-year-olds are on Facebook, with 51% of them following local stations for news updates. And, despite having a much lower percentage of 25-54-year-olds on the site (44%), Twitter is another excellent source to share news, as 55% of the demographic follow a station on that platform.
Instagram, on the other hand, should be used to develop partnerships and to create an emotional connection – as opposed to sharing content – as fewer people are looking for news on this social platform (47% of the 52% of 25-54-year-olds on Instagram follow a news station).
For additional information and data, check out Pew Research’s local media archive.
Why 2020 data will be meaningful
The data from 2019 illustrates that the local news media understands the need for change. However, there is skepticism within the industry that growth in areas like emotional connection is possible for their stations.
2020 data will benchmark just how news stations are adapting – or not – to meet the needs of their target audience.
If you are looking for more useful statistics from 2019, check out our post on video entertainment statistics.