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In the UK, local news is community driven

Local news is central to community and fostering a sense of community is a key component of engaging audiences in local news.

January 23, 2024 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Understanding how audiences engage with local news is crucial in the ever-evolving media consumption landscape. Research indicates a strong link between local news consumption and community attachment, fostering a sense of belonging. So, it’s not surprising that nearly all of the adults in the United Kingdom engage with local media (92%) according to the Local Media Survey, conducted by Yonder. Notably, most adults seeking local information look for local weather (70%) closely following local news and current affairs, 65% each.

Yonder’s research explores the types of local news and information consumed, the platforms utilized, and the sources trusted by the public. They found that online sources dominate the local media landscape (89%). Social media, messaging apps, and websites emerge as the go-to platforms, with local groups on social media leading the pack at 38%. BBC regional news bulletins on TV and the BBC website or app also boast significant shares at 35% each.

Local news sources

Local news plays a vital role in community integration because it is through local media that people learn about the world around them. Local groups on social media are the most popular sources of information, signaling a societal shift towards community-driven sharing. News aggregators find favor among younger demographics, while email newsletters and hyperlocal messaging apps appeal to an older audience.

Online services lead in traffic and travel information, while online sources dominate local events and government information. The BBC is the most utilized source for local news and information in the UK. Regional news bulletins on both BBC and other services, such as ITV or STV, claim significant viewership on television. Commercial radio stations, including Heart and Capital, cater to younger audiences, while local newspapers, both free and paid, are popular across all age groups.

Geographic and demographic differences

Interestingly, the survey identified a divergence in platform preferences across geographical areas. While TV remains the dominant medium for receiving news at the national and county levels, social media takes precedence at the city, town, neighborhood, and street levels.

Further, the survey illuminates regional variations in media consumption. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland exhibit unique preferences, with regional political programs gaining prominence. Additionally, consumers of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland favor paid newspapers as their primary local news and media sources. Whereas in England, free magazines enjoy greater popularity compared to other nations.

Delving into demographic nuances, social media, TV, and word of mouth are the primary platforms, with a noticeable generational divide. Younger individuals (16–34-year-olds) lean heavily on online sources, while the 65+ demographic prefers TV, radio, and print.

The Local Media Survey provides an understanding of how UK adults interact with local media, shedding light on preferences, platforms, and sources. Examining specific sources confirms a societal shift towards community-driven information sharing, with local social media groups taking the lead.

Demographic variations showcase preferences, with younger favoring online sources and the 65+ demographic relying on traditional mediums. As media landscapes evolve, these insights serve as a valuable compass for media organizations to navigate the ever-changing channels of news information consumption.

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