Civic Engagement Closely Linked to Local News Habits, Survey Finds

Americans who are deeply attached to their local communities and those who always vote in local elections are more likely to follow local news closely, a report from the finds.

The report, (37 pages, PDF), examined five indicators of civic engagement — community attachment, local voting habits, local group and political activity, community rating, and perceived political diversity — in relation to survey respondents' local news habits. The survey found that of the 19 percent of respondents who said they were "highly attached" to their community, 59 percent followed local news closely, 44 percent said they followed three or more community news sources, and 35 percent thought local media were doing a good job. Similarly, of the 27 percent of respondents who said they always voted in local elections, 52 percent said they followed local news closely, 38 percent said they followed three or more news sources, and 27 percent approved of local media outlets. However, those who vote regularly in national elections but not in local elections were no more likely to follow local news than those who did not vote regularly in either national or local elections.

Funded by the and the , the survey found weaker correlations between other factors of civic engagement and local news habits. While those who actively participated in local groups and political activities were somewhat more likely to follow local news closely and use three or more sources, for example, they were no more likely to think local media outlets were doing a good job. And those who rated their communities as excellent were more likely to view local media positively but were not significantly more engaged with local news. The factor with the weakest connection to local news habits was the political heterogeneity of the community, with little difference in responses between the seven in ten respondents who said people in their communities had different political views than those who did not.

"In local communities, the civically engaged — the people who vote, volunteer, and connect with those around them — play a key role in community life," the report states. "Thus, how and to what degree they stay informed about their communities carries added weight."

"Civic Engagement Strongly Tied to Local News Habits." Pew Research Center Report 11/03/2016.