A just-released national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that rural residents did indeed still rely on newspapers for most of their local news. Researchers speculated that is because most rural areas get little coverage from other media, and many "micropolitan" towns of fewer than 50,000 people have no television station.
However, they noted that "the choices about information acquisition are not necessarily the same in all communities. For instance, it might be the case in rural areas that the local newspaper and broadcast outlets are not online or have a very limited online presence and that is a determinant in whether residents get local information online or not."
And, perhaps surprisingly, researchers found that those who live in rural communities are "less interested in almost all local topics than those in other communities. The one exception is taxes. They are also are less likely . . . to say it is easier now to keep up with local information."
Interestingly, rural people were more likely than most to say they are willing to pay for local news content through a paid subscription to a local paper; 37 percent said so, a larger share than any but suburbanites, at 40 percent.
The study, co-authored by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, also reported these findings:
- Urban and suburban residents on average use more sources of local news than their small town and rural counterparts and are more likely to consume local news on mobile devices.
- The most active “local news participators” also tend to reside in suburban and urban communities where they email local stories to others, post material on sites, comment, post or e-report.
- Suburbanites are most likely to use radio as a news source -- researchers postulated this might be a consequence of longer commutes. They are the most likely of the four distinct community types to use the Internet for information about local restaurants, businesses and jobs.