The days of waiting for the 5 p.m. broadcast or the morning paper to find out what’s going on in the world around us are long gone. Today, news is where we want it, when we want it.

While we get the news almost instantaneously, it also means that the information may not be complete. With the urgency to get the story out there, often stories are posted first and updated later with more specific facts and corrections. Publishing first and checking later creates a greater risk of dispersing the wrong information. This also presents an opportunity for those who want to skew and sway public opinion by purposely spreading disinformation, or fake news. This has become an issue so much so in the last few years that the credibility of news has become a familiar political talking point.

According to the 2019 Institute for Public Relations (IPR) “Disinformation in Society” report, nearly two out of three Americans think the spread of misinformation and/or fake news is a major problem in the U.S. As a result of this rise, trust is more important today than ever.

Who do viewers trust?

With so many ways to get information today, who can the public trust for our news? A Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this year found that local news was a trusted source of information across the country and is viewed as relevant and essential to communities. The overarching findings of the survey were:

  • Most people trust local news and believe it does an okay job.
  • Television broadcasters provide most of the local news, followed by radio, then newspapers.
  • Just as many people turn to social media for news as people who get their news through other mediums, but the news they are reading or watching on social media is still produced by their local stations

So, where do Louisianians get their news?

For more than five years, The Ehrhardt Group has conducted various surveys and focus groups, asking one question consistently – Where do you get your news? Among respondents, television ranks first with 40-50 percent. Digital and social media outlets have surpassed newspapers for second place. But not by much. Newspapers still rank third in where Louisianians collect their news, followed closely by radio.

Our findings are similar to the Pew Research Center’s list of preferred ways New Orleanians get local news:

  • TV – 58%
  • News website/app – 15%
  • Social media – 13%
  • Print – 7%
  • Radio – 7%

Based on our research and comparable studies, the following is a breakdown of how New Orleanians view local media.

How communication professionals play a role

Communication professionals and journalists work as strategic partners to deliver news that fits the criteria viewers look for in well-developed, trustworthy stories.

A good, local public relations team helps businesses and organizations increase their visibility and brand awareness by crafting interesting narratives and then working with the local news media to get these messages in front of the public.

However, a successful public relations team takes this a step further by helping both businesses and the news media to work together – connecting businesses directly to local news partners, the most trusted medium, (we know, we did the research) – so they can deliver accurate, timely and concise information to the audiences most important to those businesses.

While the advent of the Internet, heightened technology and the pace at which information is dispersed pose challenges for today’s news media, one constant remains strong: people still trust their local news.

Local media provides the information we need to go about our daily routines and delivers information that is relevant, accurate, fair, balanced and timely.