Local News Study - August 2019

created Aug 14, 2019

This is not specifically about Toledo area local news orgs. This post references a Pew Research Center study about local news around the U.S.

Mediagazer link.

Older Americans, black adults, and Americans with less education are more interested in local news than their counterparts; older adults prefer TV as a source

Pew Research Center story about its local news study.

Nieman Lab story about the Pew study.

Discussion attached to the Mediagazer link:

Laura Hazard Owen / Nieman Lab: Americans with less education are more likely to say that local news is important to them (and to get it from TV)

John Gramlich / @johngramlich: NEW: 90% of US adults under the age of 30 haven't paid for local news within the past year. One reason: Many of them say they're not interested enough in local news to pay for it. https://www.journalism.org/... https://twitter.com/...

@pewresearch: Share of Americans who follow local news closely: 18 to 29: 15% 30 to 49: 28% 50 to 64: 38% 65+: 42% https://www.journalism.org/... https://twitter.com/...

Tamer / @tamerzmorsy: Consumers do not see value in paying for just one service. https://twitter.com/...

@niemanlab: The primary reason that 18- to 29-year-olds give for not paying for local news is that they aren't interested in it. https://www.niemanlab.org/...

Sam Esfandiari / @samesfandiari: I'd argue younger people and especially those with college degrees not being interested in local news is a huge f'n problem https://twitter.com/...

Danae King / @danaeking: I'm an adult under 30 and I pay for lots of news. I also write it. There is no substitute for being informed and knowing what's going on around you. You pay for Netflix & it's less per month to read @DispatchAlerts. Subscribe and make informed decisions: https://www.dispatch.com/... https://twitter.com/...

Danae King is a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch. I'm not surprised that a newspaper reporter pays for news. It's probable that most computer programmers use a computer.

If 70 percent of U.S. adults who have internet access also have Facebook accounts, then these people might consider themselves to be informed about their locales, based upon who and what they follow on Facebook.

I don't have a Facebook account.

Apparently, local news orgs are not substitutes for Facebook Groups, which is one of Facebook's most important features. Groups provides non-tech people an easy way to create and manage online communities.

The Reddit subreddit feature also provides an easy way for people to manage online communities. Facebook Groups and Reddit subreddits help community admins avoid the admin tax that I incurred when I managed the small, local message board toledotalk.com for over 16 years.

I chose to lease a domain name. I chose to build my own message board software, twice, because I wanted the ability to create custom looks and features. I wanted more control over toledotalk.com functions. I wanted a more unique experience. But the goal was always to host interesting discussions, and that occurs on the silos, such as Facebook and Reddit, without requiring much technical knowledge.

Facebook's Events feature informs people about upcoming events better than local news orgs. For many U.S. citizens, using Facebook's Groups and Events features are enough to be informed. I disagree, but obviously, I'm in the minority.

Who gets to define "informed?" Not the media. Each individual gets to create that definition.

BTW, the best way to become misinformed is to use Twitter. Journalists, however, love to use Twitter. Journalists invent stupid reason why they "need" to use Twitter.

Too many media orgs, even at the local level, are in the breaking news business. Breaking news is synonymous with incorrect news.

NOT following the news about a breaking news event makes a person more informed than someone glued to breaking news.

I don't use Twitter.

The local, digital-only news orgs of the future do not exist today. The future local media orgs will not be based upon the archaic newspaper thinking from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Why is local TV news polluted with ads and wire-filler stories?

Weather? I created my own local weather web app http://toledoweather.info. People can use https://weather.gov to be informed. If smartphones actually made users smarter, then they would know which regional National Weather Service covers their county, and they would know about Area Forecast Discussions. They would also know about the Storm Prediction Center and Convective Outlooks and Mesoscale Disussions.

But if users see their weather information consisting of icons of the sun, clouds, and lightning bolts, then they are less informed about local weather than the Native Americans of several hundred years ago.

Sports? I'm only interested in the Cleveland Browns, and I subscribe to The Athletic, which is a digital-only media startup that began a few years ago.

I don't watch local TV news. Many years ago, when I did watch local TV news, the programs contained about one to two minutes of what I would consider to be worthwhile local news.

Because of commercials and time limits and maybe our lack of an attention span, the local TV news orgs provide cursory coverage of local issues.

Web-based stories do not have the constraints that exist in radio news, TV news, and in print news products. Web-based stories can be much longer and more nuanced when covering complicated local issues deeply. I don't care about every damn automobile accident nor court case issue. That low-hanging-fruit journalism could probably be created by computer programs.

More from the Mediagazer discussion:

@pewresearch: About half (52%) of those with a high school diploma or less prefer to get their local news from TV compared with 29% of those with a college degree and 39% of those with some college education. https://www.journalism.org/... https://twitter.com/...

Dan McGowan / @danmcgowan: “But just 7 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 9 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds pay anything for local news (subscription, donation, or membership), compared to 29 percent of people over 65.” https://www.niemanlab.org/...

@pewresearch: Black Americans show a stronger connection to local news: Just under half (46%) follow it very closely, while about a quarter (28%) of white Americans do the same, along with about a third (34%) of Hispanic adults. https://www.journalism.org/... https://twitter.com/...

Galen Stocking / @galenstocking: % of Americans by age who prefer to get their local news from a TV set : 18-29: 26% 30-49: 36% 50-64: 51% 65+: 51% % of Americans by age who prefer to get their local news online : 18-29: 60% 30-49: 47% 50-64: 26% 65+: 14% see more in new report: https://www.journalism.org/...

Randy Ludlow / @randyludlow: Get a home. Pay taxes. Have children. Worry about their schools ... then you'll be interested in the effects on your life — and the local news reporting on them. https://twitter.com/...

That least tweet contained an interesting theory that does not reflect reality, otherwise the newspaper industry would be in better financial shape.

The stereotype spewed by media orgs about today's young people is that the youngsters are disinterested in home ownership, and if they get married, then they prefer to get married later in life, and if they have kids, then they prefer to have fewer kids than past generations.

Based upon that mass characterization, today's population under the age of 35 won't get interested in news that matters (whatever that means) until they reach their 40s.

I got married at age 37. When I was single, I never had a home mortgage because I only rented. I never had kids of my own. I was a millennial before millennials.

I only started following local news AFTER I moved from a suburb into Toledo, which occurred in 2001 after getting married.

I started voting regularly in 2002 because I became interested in local matters in Toledo and Lucas County.

I started my local message board toledotalk.com in January 2003 because of my interest in local news, politics, arts, issues, and events, mainly about Toledo. I shutdown the message board, however, in March 2019 after 16-plus years due to lack of interest by me and others.

My declining interest in Toledo Talk began around 2014-2015, which coincidentally is when I stopped voting. I did not vote in 2015. I last voted, however, in March 2016, over three years ago. In the fall of 2016, I intentionally purged myself from the voter registration list. The Lucas County Board of Elections provides a form that permits voters to unregister.

Political-wise, I was mainly interested in municipal, school board, and county issues. I had little to no interest in statewide and national politics. When voting, many times I skipped choices on the ballot that were state and federal related.

Local politicians love having a citizenry that is distracted by sensationalized national political stories, and in my opinion, cable TV news enables this behavior. People might be able to name the House and Senate majority leaders, but can those same people name at least two city council members or at least one county commissioner?

It was all about the local for me. It still is. I don't need a message board nor voting to support Toledo. I have radically supported local businesses for the past 20 years. I help or contribute to local non-profits, but I could always do more.

I'm a digital subscriber to the Toledo Blade. The Blade as a newspaper has existed since 1835, and it still produces a print product, but now the print paper is published five days a week, instead of seven. I'm guessing that the Blade will end its print product in 2020.

We canceled our print subscription to the Blade back in 2005 or 2006. Holding a print newspaper in my hand is an odd experience.

We ended full cable TV around 2008. We started using Roku around 2012, and in 2013, we ended our basic or bare minimum cable TV service. About the only time that I use over-the-air TV is when I watch the Cleveland Browns.

I believe that watching commercial-free streaming TV, such as Netflix, has made me intolerable to all advertising on TV, radio, and websites. I think that this is why I watch less NFL.

In the past, after watching the Browns, I would catch at least the Sunday night NFL game, but holy hell, the amount of time spent on commercials is infuriating. I don't think that the NFL has changed anything. Watching years of Netflix shows has changed what I expect and can tolerate.

When I watch the Browns, I turn down the volume on the TV and listen to the Browns announcers on the radio. Radio commercials are far less annoying than TV commercials.

On our Roku TV we like to watch small business owners, crafters, and artists who produce YouTube videos. We do not subscribe to YouTube TV or whatever the service is that they offer. Through Patreon, we pay 10 to 15 dollars a month to support Fruity Knitting because we enjoy their YouTube videos.

People will fund quality products.

My Blade digital subscription was $9.99 a month, but two months ago (June 2019), the price increased to $13.99 a month.

The Blade's website is an environmentally-unfriendly, bloated garbage dump. Yeah, eco warriors are fat-shaming bloated web designs, like those produced by nearly every media org.

When an unsuspecting reader's computer downloads four to eight megabytes of crapware to read a 500-word article, then that bloatware can cause CPUs to work harder, consuming more resources, including draining batteries faster. It all adds up to more energy consumption, and if the electricity comes from fossil fuels, well, you get the idea.

This is my anecdotal observation, but it's obvious to me that my old iPhone's battery last longer between charges if I have JavaScript disabled within Safari. I do a lot of web reading on my iPhone. Maybe too much. My favorite mobile app is the web browser.

When local media orgs disrespect subscribers by offering readers disgusting, ad-filled, tracker-filled websites, then those media orgs should not be surprised when people don't want to fund their craft.

How does the Blade, a newspaper, fail at displaying text on a web page? Text has been important to the Blade, since the Blade began in 1835, or it used to be important.

Thanks to the Blade's new web design that began in the fall of 2018, the Blade's web articles are blank with JavaScript disabled. The Blade's articles are not cURLable, which means the Blade no longer supports the open web. That kind of failing is not worthy of funding.

... if it's not curlable, it’s not on the web.

The Blade's web pages contain JSON text and not 100 percent HTML text. JSON text, however, makes it easy for me to parse out the article body text to display in a custom web app. That's the upside to the Blade's obnoxious new web design.

My June 2018 post : Suggestions for Local News Orgs, which lists web posts about web design and sustaining local news.

I don't understand why local newspaper websites everywhere have been designed to be unusable and hostile to readers. I guess that it's related to their lame business models.

And I don't understand why local TV news is the main source for many people for obtaining local news. Maybe a correlation exists.

Local newspapers, such as the Toledo Blade, should have been the kingpins of local, digital information, but they are not. Local newspapers successfully grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sadly, many Journalists, who claim to be interested in the truth, blame everyone else for the newspaper industry's problems when 100 percent of the blame goes to the newspaper industry for not surviving technological evolution.

25 years ago, the future, which is now, was setup for the newspaper industry to prosper, and they ignored the opportunity. From a digital standpoint, the Blade has gotten worse and not better over the past 20-plus years.