Local papers ‘still helping generate sense of community’

Australians continue to be avid consumers of news, underscoring the important role newspapers play in the democratic life of local communities.

The finding is contained in the 2021 Digital News Report, a survey coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism based at the University of Oxford.

The report found 81 percent of Australians access local news and information regularly, with local newspapers and their websites considered the best destination for news and information about local politics and government, Covid-19, and the local economy.

“The data clearly highlights the important role of local newspapers in generating a sense of community, particularly among older news consumers,” the report’s authors say.

“People who primarily get their news from print (newspaper or magazine) are more likely to say they feel attached to their local community (73 percent), than those who rely on other news sources.”

The survey found that in 2021, about one-quarter (23 percent) of news consumers primarily used social media for news, a five percentage point increase from 2019.

However, it found that Facebook is becoming less popular as a vehicle for news.

“General use of Facebook has hardly changed since 2016 (69 percent versus 67 percent), but the percentage of people using it to access news has dropped from 45 percent in 2016 to 33 percent in 2021.”