The Internet is gaining as a popular source for local news, particularly among young adults, according to a JupiterResearch study titled Online Local Content: Prioritizing Content, Blogs, and Community.
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Jupiter’s findings show that between 2001 and 2004, the share of people seeking local news online rose from four to nine percent of those surveyed, a 35 percent jump. The percentage may appear small compared to TV, which rated 63 percent in 2004, but television’s increase only rose from 61 percent during the same period. Newspapers actually declined two percent over the coarse of the study. JupiterResearch points out there is cross-media activity, and many users visit the sites of their preferred offline newspapers on a regular basis.
Young adults, age 18 to 24, are more inclined to go online for local and national/international news. Ten percent of them are consuming local news, one percent higher than the number for all respondents. In the case of national and international news, 33 percent of young adults went online in 2004 compared to 26 percent of total respondents. The research shows young adults look for several categories of news online, including entertainment, and act as influencers, making recommendations to friends via email and IM.
“Youth likes the online for news in so far as they like news,” says David Card, vice president and senior analyst with JupiterResearch. “If you are a multimedia brand, you should definitely cater to the younger audience. Expect that a disproportionate number of your audience will be younger.”
One issue noted in the Online Local Content report is the lack of a successful national network of local sites. While there are local news media companies, including Knight Ridder and Belo, none of the networks have a substantial share in terms of national reach.
And while blogs get huge attention these days, they lag as a local news channel. The study found more local news seekers get entertainment info from message boards than blogs. However, Jupiter notes that start-up GetLocalNews.com is building reach by assembling a network of local “citizen journalist” bloggers, and licensing the content regionally.
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