ACM study finds local news vital to strong community ties

New data from the ACM Heartbeat of Australia study shows that credible local news publishers play a vital role in keeping communities connected.

The study of more than 6,000 participants, launched in partnership with the University of Canberra, tracks the sentiment of Australians: how they feel, their concerns, how they connect to their community, and their relationship with local news and advertising.

The overwhelming majority of respondents have much higher levels of trust in their local news outlets than they do in national mastheads.

89% of those surveyed believe local news serves as a binding agent for community spirit. 84% of people believe local and regional news brands cover issues that affect the community well, while 84% agree that it’s done better than national and international news rooms.

78% of survey respondents say that knowing what is going on in their community is the key driver of community connection.

ACM Managing Director Tony Kendall said, “We take very seriously our mission to support the communities we serve and this study shows that without a regional independent voice our communities have no trusted way of staying connected. Relevant news and information is vital for the sustainability of our regional towns.

“Local news speaks directly to its audience. Whether it’s talking about local events, the newest cafe in town or the next big housing estate, our audience can instantly identify with what they are reading and this is where connections are built. A connection that local businesses and national brands should be leveraging.”

“Regional Australians who typically consume more local news than their metro counterparts feel that advertising and information about local businesses is more relevant to them because our advertisers tailor their messages.

“It’s also a pretty clear message to national brands that when they advertise in local news they should localise their message as much as possible to ensure relevance and, in turn, cut through.”

Trust in local news brands is higher amongst ACM readers (67%) than non-readers (51%), and particularly strong in regional Australians (66%) and for those over the age of 45 (67%).

“It’s very satisfying for the whole ACM team to know that our mastheads are trusted 16% more than readers of other news sources. Kendall said.

ACM Research Director Alex Mihalovich (above) notes a strong link between the consumption of information and levels of community connection.

“We have again found a direct correlation between those who consume local news and those who have a deeper sense of connection to their community and positive wellbeing and this comes down to the localised content,” Mihalovich said.

“We continue to see a clear connection between local news consumption and connection to the community. This connection has a positive impact on people’s well being and in turn leads to a more active cohort.

“Whether that be travelling, renovating, buying furniture or home appliances, this cohort has a higher propensity to act and this is amplified even higher amongst ACM readers.”


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