Americans Trust Local News and Alternative Publications

BY Rachel Cagle
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News reported by local TV stations and newspapers is trusted by about 75% of Americans. Content in local alternative publications also provides value. Specifically, 76% trust local TV and 73% have confidence in local newspapers. This is according to the latest Media Trust Survey conducted by The Poynter Institute. These numbers are leaps and bounds better than how Americans reported feeling about national news media. About 59% rely on national newspapers (a ‑14% difference). And only 55% believe they can trust what they see on national network new channels (a ‑21% difference).

Why could this be?

Trust comes when there is a relationship,” says Neil Brown, Poyner’s President. “…and for lots of people, even those with great interest in national affairs, the more personal relationship is with their local news source."

This is especially true when it comes to Republicans. Only 23% of Republicans claim to trust news media as a whole. However, 71% have confidence in local TV and 62% rely on local newspapers. This is compared to the nearly 90% of Democrats who have confidence in all forms of news media, both national and local.

The distrust Republicans have for national media can likely be attributed to the last presidential election. According to Poynter’s first Media Trust Survey from December 2017, 44% of Americans as a whole are concerned that the media fabricates many of its reports that are centered around President Trump. That number went down only slightly during the second survey to 42%.

Local Alternative Publications

Local alternative publications, produced on a weekly or monthly schedule, also provide unique content to local readers. These publications often focus on local happenings and are primarily supported by advertising dollars. In some cases, they've qualified for grants. As their funding often feels precarious, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia is asking Congress to allocate more funding.

During times of crisis, local alternative publications often serve as the key information source for "people of color, low-​income households and other marginalized groups." Our latest AudienceScan research shows that 7.2% of all U.S. adults enjoy reading alternative newspapers. In addition, research shows that 37% of U.S. adults prefer to hear about local news online. Alternative publications that develop a strong website will attract  local consumers. Over 85% of U.S. adults want local journalists who understand the history the the community.  Consumers also expect journalists to cover topics of interest thoroughly and fairly.  While they are taking in the news, consumers will also notice advertiser messages.

AudienceSCAN in AdMall by SalesFuel can provide more insight to the consumers of a number of local media types. Learn more about the political standing and advertising preferences of local radio listeners, newspaper followers, TV station followers, and more through their profiles.

There you have it, Americans trust local media. So, that’s what they’re regularly consuming. Share this with your clients and encourage them to place their ads in the media format that works best to reach their target audiences.