Sunday, October 16, 2011

Americans rely on newspapers, study shows, yet don't appreciate their importance

Newspapers and their websites ranked first or tied for first as a reliable source of local information on 11 of 16 topics that more than 2,000 respondents were surveyed about in a recent study by Pew Research.

However, asked whether they'd be impacted in a big way by the demise of their local newspaper, 69% said no, that they'd still be able to keep up with information and news about their community.

Television is the main source for three popular topics: weather, traffic and breaking news, the study showed. Newspapers and their Web sites are the main source for most other topics, such as local government and crime reports. Also, word of mouth -- most likely including text messaging and Twitter posts -- is the second most common means of news distribution on the local level.

“There really is a nuanced ecosystem here with very old and very new sources blending,” said Tom Rosenstiel (above), the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which collaborated with the Pew Internet & American Life Project on the study, speaking to the New York Times.

Elsewhere, another Pew study clarified people's attitude about the press, which remain negative despite their reliance on news media for information.

Of those surveyed, 80% said they thought the news media were often influenced by powerful people and groups; 77% said the media tend to favor one side; and 72% said reporters try to cover up their mistakes.