Monday, November 10, 2008

Good News, Bad News, and HyperHype

We know people are less interested in news -- but what kind of news?

  • Interest in Local News remains largely unchanged from 1998 - 2008. That's good news, you'd think, for newspapers.

  • But ... interest in Community News has dropped. Weird. And bad news.

  • Also largely unchanged, interest in: crime, health, business, culture & arts, and consumer news.

  • Okay, so what's dropped then? Politics and Washington news (pre-prez campaign), international news, sports (I find this one hard to believe, but there it is), and entertainment (thank god!).

The results are based on Pew's study, conducted every two years, of media consumption. The usual caveats apply, such as social desirability, but there is no reason to believe people are more or less socially desirable in their media answers in 2008 than they were in 1998, so we have to accept the trends for what they are.

What are they, then? Interesting. I can't figure out the difference between "community" and "local news" and why there'd be consistent interest in one, decreasing interest in the other. The "community" interest has dropped over 10 years from 31 to 22 percent. Interest in local news remains consistently hovering at about 20 percent across the same time. Weird. Odd. Unexplainable.

And of concern to people who sell newspapers or who think hyperlocal is the way to go. These results suggest, as do some recent newspaper numbers and the lack of success by certain hyperlocal projects, that the hyperlocal angle has been hyperhyped.

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