Almost two thirds of American adults use at least three different types of media every week to get news and information about their local community, according to the latest report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Fifteen per cent of them rely on at least six different kinds of media weekly. Broadcast sources still dominate: 74 per cent say they get local information at least weekly from a local tv news broadcast and/or the website of their local tv news station. The figures for radio and newspapers are 51 and 50 per cent. Word of mouth was also consistently cited as a source for most of the topics that respondents were asked about.

In our 2010 research, we asked users of neighbourhood sites – obviously a wholly different sample – to identify what they regarded as their main source of local news. Seven per cent said it was ‘television’, 11 per cent said ‘local newspaper’, and an emphatic 63 per cent indicated ‘neighbourhood blog / website’. This latest Pew study acentuates the gap between internet-based use of local information and the residual dependence on traditional broadcast media.

At first sight, the most striking finding in the Pew research seems to be this:

‘41% of all adults can be considered “local news participators” because they contribute their own information via social media and other sources, add to online conversations, and directly contribute articles about the community.’

Ever-so-slightly eyebrow raising. But the category includes, for example, the 25 per cent of people who say that they ‘share links to local stories or videos online with others,’ along with quite a few who have ‘commented on local news stories or blogs they read online.’ Not quite an overwhelming challenge to the traditional broadcast media yet then. All the same, the survey finds that eight per cent of all adults (10 per cent of internet users) ‘contribute to online discussions or message boards about their community.’

There’s more detail of course, and we’ve taken the liberty of repackaging some of the data (source) for clarity below. Trend data could make this information of particular interest.

Respondents were asked, with reference to getting and sharing local information online, ‘do you ever…’

Yes

No

Based on

a. Contribute to an online discussion or message board about your local community

10

90

All internet users (n=1762)

b. Customize your homepage to include your favorite local information or news sources or topics

19

81

..

c. Email a link to a local news story or local news video to someone you know

32

68

..

d. Tag or categorize online local news content

7

92

..

e. Contribute your own article, opinion piece, picture or video about your local community to an online news site

6

94

..

f. Comment on a local news story or local blog you read online

20

80

..

g. Post news or information about your local community on a social networking site like Facebook

33

66

SNS users (n=1007)

h. Post news or information about your local community on Twitter

20

80

Twitter users (n=153)