The News Measures Research Project team, led by Shepley Professor Philip M. Napoli, has released a new report:
Who’s Producing Local Journalism: Assessing Journalistic Output Across Different Outlet Types
By: Jessica Mahone, Qun Wang, Philip Napoli, Matthew Weber, Katie McCollough
The economic challenges facing local journalism and the associated declines in revenues and newsroom staffs have generated great interest in understanding the composition and dynamics of local news ecosystems. Much of this research has focused on case studies of individual communities while other research has focused either on the content produced by local news outlets in the face of these challenges or on the consumption of local news by the American public.
However, despite what we know about the challenges faced by local journalism, the content of local news outlets, and Americans’ preferences for local news sources, we don’t know a great deal about how different types of outlets are serving the information needs of their communities. This paper addresses this question through an analysis of 100 randomly selected communities across the U.S. Across these 100 communities, this study analyzes over 16,000 stories provided by 663 local media outlets. For this analysis, local media outlets fall into one of four categories (radio stations, TV stations, newspapers, and online-only outlets). Each story in the sample was content analyzed to determine whether the story was original, local, and addressed a critical information need.
To understand the journalistic performance of different outlet types, this study analyzes the story output of each outlet type relative to the outlet type’s numeric frequency. Doing this allows us to assess each outlet type’s news production relative to that outlet type’s prominence in the news ecosystem. To examine production in this way, ratios were calculated comparing the share of total stories, original stories, local stories, and stories addressing a critical information need from each outlet type to each outlet type’s share of outlets.
(From the Executive Summary)