Local news sites in the US have a predominantly male, high-income, loyal audience who purchase online, according to a study by the Laredo Group, Inc. The study was conducted for Real Media Network, a collective of 550 local news outlets in the US. Laredo surveyed 9,786 users of 19 newspaper sites over four weeks during July and August 1998.
The study found that the majority of local news site users in the US are male, aged 35 or over, working in high-income jobs in senior management or in the professions. In addition, 72 percent of those who access local news sites purchase online, and according to the report, the higher the income the higher the rate of online purchasing.
The study found that 73 percent of buyers expect to increase “significantly” their online spending in 1999. Meanwhile, 11 percent of “browsers” said they will buy online in the next year. Forty-five percent said they are unlikely to make an online purchase. Eighty-four percent of “non-shoppers” do not intend on buying anything in the next year.
The study found that those who access local media sites are devoted users. Over three-quarters consider both the local and national news coverage provided by local sites to be as good as, or better than that provided by national outlets. The majority also said that the coverage of sports and arts and entertainment was better than on national sites. Business news coverage was rated highest of all, with 94 percent of those surveyed saying they preferred the coverage in the local newspaper.