As the cable news networks continue to fuel partisanship and divisiveness among most Americans, new research from Hearst Television finds that an overwhelming majority of adults under the age of 50 consider local television to be the most trusted source of news and information, according to a national survey of consumers conducted for Hearst by market research firm SmithGeiger.

Eighty-one percent of 18-49-year-old video consumers are watching local TV news at least once a week on at least one platform, the study finds. Sixty-three percent get news and information from a local TV station’s local news program on TV at least once a week, while 49 percent watch on TV every day. And the majority of younger consumers—51 percent of those ages 18-24 and 59 percent of ages 25-34—say they get their news on a local-TV newscast on TV at least once a week.

Underscoring the enduring trust placed in local television news, 73 percent of news consumers—69 percent of ages 18-24 and 74 percent of ages 25-49—trust at least one local TV news brand in their market. Local TV far outdistances any other news source, on air or on digital platforms, in this category.

“At a time when journalism is under unprecedented scrutiny, with consumers juggling an overwhelming number of providers and platforms from which to get information, quality and relevance matter more than ever,” said Barbara Maushard, Hearst Television senior vice president of news, in a news release. “Local news teams are best positioned, as members of the communities they serve, to cover what matters to people within each and every community—and to get it right.

The continued trust placed in local TV news stands in stark contrast to that placed in newer platforms, despite shifting video-consumption habits

While the findings underscore the growth of social media outlets as news venues—74 percent use social media every day for news and info—social media sites are trusted by 17 percent or fewer of consumers as a source for news, compared to 73 percent for local TV news.

“Even with the proliferation of choices available to local news consumers today, local TV news stations continue to be a primary source of video-based news and information across a broad range of age groups,” said Seth Geiger, president of SmithGeiger, in the release. “And while millennials typically check their social media feeds for news headlines, it is local news at the source that they trust.”

SmithGeiger conducted 2,069 online interviews with media consumers across eight Hearst television markets. Respondents watch TV content on any device or platform (TV, PC, smartphone, tablet, social media), in linear or non-linear mode. 

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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