Local News in a Digital Age

Local TV news is the “most visible presence” in the news space, according to a Pew study, though most TV stories are routine traffic and weather reports and short, shallow “anchor reads” (in which the well-coiffed announcers read into the camera) rather than the result of thoughtful, original reporting. To paraphrase Into the Woods, “Visible is different than good.”

imageLocal TV is the single most visible presence in the news space, though a majority of stories produced are short anchor reads that require little reporting….Nearly half, 45% of non-sports, weather and traffic stories on Denver stations were 30 seconds or shorter, compared with 29% in Sioux City and 17% in Macon. Fewer than two-in-ten stories in each city were more than two minutes long.
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The role of the main daily newspaper varies from city to city, but in each the emphasis is on more civically oriented and press-initiated coverage than found in local TV. In a five-day snapshot of coverage, 30% of Denver Post stories focused on government, politics, economics or education (excluding traffic, weather and sports stories), as opposed to 11% devoted to those topics on local TV. In Sioux City, the daily devoted 30% of its stories to these topics, versus 14% on local TV. —Pew Research Center's Journalism Project