The future of local news

Last week, the Pew Research Center published a report on America’s changing relationship with local news. The survey of over 5,000 U.S. adults was conducted from January 22 to 28, 2024, and results were weighted to be representative of the population.

Of note to communicators and the biggest contradiction in the report: while Americans continue to declare that local news is important to them, they pay less attention to it across all age groups and few spend any money on it. There has been a continued shift away from print and TV towards online sources—both second-hand (social media posts or other aggregators) and direct (online news sites). A majority of newspaper readers now use online rather than print editions. The report does not speculate on how a greater reliance on social media for news might affect the spread of disinformation.

Here are additional highlights from the report:

  • The share of Americans who say they follow local news very closely now stands at 22%—a decline of 15 percentage points since 2016.
  • The share of respondents who at least sometimes get news from online forums like Facebook groups increased from 38% in 2018 to 52% in 2024.
  • Despite declining public attention to local news, many Americans express positive feelings about their local news media. For instance, 85% believe local news outlets are at least somewhat important to the well-being of their local community, including 44% who say they are extremely or very important.
  • Just 15% said they paid for local news in the last year.
  • While 69% said local journalists should remain neutral on issues in their communities, around four-in-ten U.S. adults ages 18 to 29 (39%) said local journalists should advocate for change in the community, compared with two-in-ten of those ages 65 and older.
  • 63% said they think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially—71% said the same in 2018.

If you have any questions about how to connect with local news audiences in this changing environment, feel free to reach out to the University Relations Public Relations team at