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Actually, people like the media -- as long as it's local

Some 70 percent of Twin Citians think their local news coverage is fair

Some 70 percent of Twin Citians think their local news coverage is fair KARE TV

You don’t have to stay on the internet long before you find someone bemoaning the state of the media in the United States. In fact, you don’t have to stray too far from the president’s Twitter feed to find words like “fake,” “dying,” and “sad.”

But a new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that even as the public remains “deeply divided” about the state of national news media, they still think local reporters are alright.

It may surprise you to know that 71 percent of respondents across the country think their local outlets are reporting the news accurately, 66 percent say they’re “keeping an eye” on politicians, and 62 percent say they’re even “dealing fairly with all sides.”

When Pew broke those results into individual metro areas, the Twin Cities were even more trusting. Seventy-seven percent of respondents in our area said local journalists are “in touch” with their communities, and 80 percent said they report the news accurately. (Another 77 percent said they were keeping a good eye on the politicians, and 70 percent said their coverage was fair.)

There are some complaints, of course. Nationwide, respondents said they were getting a lot more sports coverage than they actually need. A robust 30 percent in the Twin Cities said sports news was “neither interesting nor important.” Then again, another 59 percent said that local media made sports “very easy to stay informed about,” putting its satisfaction ranking second only to weather at 79 percent. 

Pew surveyed nearly 35,000 U.S. adults and combined the responses with data from the U.S. Census Bureau and “other sources.” This was a massive study. Amy Mitchell, Pew’s director of journalism, said it kind of had to be.

“Local news, after all, is local,” she said in a statement. “Conducting a survey with almost 35,000 respondents gave us enough of a sample size to explore regional differences.”

Mitchell thinks the most “surprising” part of the story – and maybe the most significant disconnect for journalists themselves – is what the public thinks about paying for news. By the numbers, people across the United States – and here – value local journalism. Only 1 percent in our area turn to national news to stay up to date. But only 17 percent of Twin Citians say they paid for local news this year. (That’s also true of 14 percent of people nationwide.)

That’s not the surprising part. What’s surprising is the fact that people seem to think journalism is doing just fine without their help. Seventy-one percent of respondents nationwide believed “local media are doing well financially.”

“Journalists tend to be quite familiar with the financial struggles facing their industry,” Mitchell said. “It’s not much of a secret to them… but the public seems largely unaware of these difficulties.”

You can find the Twin Cities’ data in its totality here. In the meantime, enjoy this list of media outlets the Twin Cities “most often” turns to for their news.

1. KARE TV (14 percent)
2. WCCO (12 percent)
3. Star Tribune (10 percent)
4. KSTP TV (7 percent)
5. Minnesota Public Radio (7 percent)
6. KMSP TV (6 percent)
7. Unspecified TV stations (4 percent)
8. Pioneer Press (2 percent)
9. National news (1 percent)
10. Other (16 percent)