The Internet continues to make headway as a source of information - especially among the younger generation in the US - both on the world at large and their own town or region.

In the United States people don’t only watch local television to get information on what’s happening in the community – far from it. A study commissioned by the Pew Research Center carried out among over 2,000 US citizens reveals that they use a wide variety of information platforms. This is especially true for younger people. Basically, Americans use purely local information sources only for three specific topics: the weather, breaking news, and to a lesser extent, traffic updates.

Internet is increasingly proving a credible source of information

It’s no great surprise that the trend is towards increasing use of the Internet for looking up local information. For the 79% of Americans who are online, the Internet is the first or second most used information source for 15 of the 16 topics defined by the survey institute as related to local life. This trend is even more pronounced among younger Internet users. Those under 40 all cite the Web as their first choice information platform for 11 out of the 16 topics.

Local newspapers are being read less, but in a more selective way

Another aspect is the loss of influence of the local newspaper. Just under 70% of respondents to the study said that if their local newspaper no longer existed, that would not have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community.  However, these statements should be set in the context of the overall responses.  In fact newspapers are constantly cited as the best source of information on a number of precise subjects such as government, taxes, etc. – i.e. topics followed by fewer Americans on a regular basis. Basically, survey results show that while local TV draws a mass audience largely around a few popular subjects, local newspapers attract a smaller cohort of citizens but for a wider range of civically-oriented subjects.