The survey indicated that newspapers play a far more complex role in the civic life of communities than many Americans believe.
On the surface, most people do not feel that their local newspaper is a key source that they rely on for local information. For instance, when asked, “If your local newspaper no longer existed, would that have a major impact, a minor impact, or no impact on your ability to keep up with information and news about your local community?” a large majority of Americans, 69%, believe the death of their local newspaper would have no impact (39%) or only a minor impact (30%) on their ability to get local information.
Younger adults, age 18-29, were especially unconcerned. Fully 75% say their ability to get local information would not be affected in a major way by the absence of their local paper. The same was true of heavier technology users: 74% of home broadband users say losing their paper would have no impact or only a minor impact on their ability to get local information.
Yet when asked about specific local topics and which sources they rely on for that information, it turns out that many adults are quite reliant on newspapers and their websites. Of the 16 specific local topics queried, newspapers ranked as the most, or tied as the most, relied upon source for 11 of the 16.