With television news viewership in 2016 up 18% compared to 2015, and news intake on radio jumping from 10.5 billion to 11.5 billion weekly gross minutes, we wanted to take a closer look into a trend that we don’t see going anywhere anytime soon: the increased power of local news.
Why are local reporters so valuable? Not just for small, locally owned media companies, but to large national networks too?
We explore the four reasons why:
- National outlets are counting on local affiliates for collaboration and content. MediaVillage.com recently reported that on NPR, a lot more news is coming from member stations than ever before, and they have dramatically increased local contributions to network programs. Big national networks are counting on their reporters “on the ground” across the country to be able to report on what is going on, which brings us to point two.
- Local reporters will tell you exactly what’s going in your state, your county and even your town. Not only do they have the best access, local reporters, their friends and their families are the end viewer, end reader, or end listener of a particular story. You are likely interested in consuming a mix of international, national, statewide, county-wide, and even city-wide news. We need people who can bring us this news.
- They’re the ones who have institutional knowledge only someone local can bring to a story. Our local newscasters shop in the same grocery stores we shop in, their kids are on our kids’ baseball teams. They were part of the town’s celebrations after the local football team won the championship, they had to dig out of the same snowstorm you did last winter. We need them and we rely on them to be able to tell us the news from a perspective that will make sense in our lives.
- It makes network executives feel more “rooted” to the local cities their affiliate markets. In the same article, MediaVillage.com reported that NPR’s Senior Vice President of News, Mike Oreskes said that utilizing local reporters so much recently has made the organization feel “stronger and made us feel more rooted, like we’re in more places and able to tell you more about the country and the world.”
We are craving news more now than ever. Yes, we all have the ability to post on social media platforms for the world to see, but nothing replaces what a journalist’s reporting can offer. As communications professionals and as citizens, we need them. We need them to be overseas, we need them to cover issues affecting our nation, and we need them to be “on the ground” in our local communities.