Traditional media still vital despite declining numbers

A joint University of Southern California Annenberg/Los Angeles Times poll on politics and the press found traditional sources such as local TV and newspapers are deemed more trustworthy by voters than blogs and social media outlets.

In the news
A joint University of Southern California Annenberg/Los Angeles Times poll on politics and the press found traditional sources such as local TV and newspapers are deemed more trustworthy by voters than blogs and social media outlets.

Why does it matter?
It should come as no surprise to many in PR that most of the US electorate finds local TV and newspapers more credible than online or quasi-news platforms.

Even with a declining audience, local papers and evening news teams can't be ignored, says Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics and director of the poll.

Key Facts

1. The survey found 52% of 18- to 29-year-olds got news via Facebook - followed by local TV at 37%.

2. 19% of voters listened to National Public Radio on a daily basis, compared with 12% who often listened to conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh.

3. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found only 37% of Americans watched coverage of the recent Republican convention, down from 56% four years ago.

"There's no question the reach of traditional media is shrinking, but its credibility allows it to punch above its weight," he explains. "But what the survey doesn't suggest is that the online social media model which has become so prevalent is wrong - the one conclusion is both types of outreach still matter and complement each other."

Brendan Daly, EVP and national director for public affairs at Ogilvy Washington and a former communication director for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), suggests politicians still understand the power of local traditional news.

But while this audience trust in traditional local sources doesn't extend across all media categories, Daly says it can be used for public policy or public advocacy campaigns.

"You can do satellite media tours or have officials for your cause meet with editorial boards in person," he adds. "You can also do a lot of op-eds. You could have a local telecom official talk about installing broadband in rural areas and the impact it will have on their home state."

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