October 29, 2019
Local news media are a cornerstone of democracy in the United States. They help keep residents informed of the significant issues facing their cities, towns and nearby areas; hold political and civic leaders accountable for their actions; and foster a sense of community among their readers and viewers. Public opinion research has shown that local news sources have typically earned more trust than their national counterparts.
This study — part of Knight Foundation’s Trust, Media and Democracy initiative with Gallup — probes Americans’ perceptions and assessments of local media in depth.
It finds that Americans mostly believe local news media are doing a good job performing many of their democratic roles and responsibilities. Americans assess local coverage of most important local issues positively, and they generally see local media as in step with, rather than at odds with, the political leanings of their local community.
While Americans give local news organizations stronger ratings than national organizations across most trust dimensions, such as relevancy and transparency, evidence suggests this trust advantage is more a sign of skepticism toward national media than of enthusiasm toward local news organizations.