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DFW Isn’t Paying for Its News, New Pew Survey Finds

If it isn't on TV, it's probably not breaking through in North Texas.
If it isn't on TV, it's probably not breaking through in North Texas.
David R. Blume, Wikipedia

Pew Research Center is out with an analysis of how North Texans get and consume their news, and the breakdown isn't kind to print and paid media, be it The Dallas Morning News or your friendly neighborhood alt-weekly. (That's us. Hi.)

An overwhelming share of DFW turns to the region's four big over-the-air networks when it needs to find out what's going on, according to the report, which relied on survey responses from 35,000 U.S. adults combined with statistical modeling to reach its conclusions.

Twenty percent of North Texans cited KDFW, Dallas' Fox affiliate, as the local source from which they got news most often. WFAA (ABC), KXAS (NBC) and KTVT (CBS) took spots two through four, according to Pew. The Dallas Morning News, the highest ranked non-TV outlet on the list, was the first choice for 4 percent of respondents, tying with TV (unspecified) for fifth in the rankings. Nineteen percent of respondents said they prefer their news come from a source classified as "other" by Pew, which includes online-only outlets and non-daily newspapers.

Local residents' preference for TV news lines up with the choices of those surveyed around the country, according to the researchers who compiled the report.

"Local television stations, overall, still have the widest reach, with 38 percent [of people who] are often getting news through local televisions stations," Amy Mitchell, the director of journalism research for Pew, said during a press call. "That is mostly done — still at this point — through the television set."

Other media, like traditional print outlets and nontraditional news providers, have seen more of their readership move online, Mitchell said. Regardless of the outlet producing the content, almost as many (42 percent) of Dallas residents choose to get their news from a website, app or social media as they do from their TVs (43 percent). 

Wherever DFW residents are getting their news, they aren't paying for it. Only 11 percent of those surveyed locally, about 3 percent less than the national average, said they've paid for any news in the past year, be it from a local or national outlet.

Perhaps the best news in the survey, at least for those who help provide the news, is that local residents remain confident in their local news sources. Eighty-two percent of adults in the Dallas area say local media does very well or fairly well at "keeping them informed of the most important local stories of the day," while 84 percent are either somewhat or very confident that their main source of local news can get them the information they need.

Dallas media does less well when it comes to connecting personally with those they cover, according to the survey. More than half of DFW adults told Pew that local news focuses on an area near them, like a neighboring city, rather than the one in which the live. While that's to be expected in an area as sprawling as Dallas-Fort Worth and its suburbs, Mitchell says that feeling that local news is focused on someone else is persistent throughout the country.

"When you dig in to sort of that level of connection that people feel or don't feel, there's less consistency across the country," Mitchell said.

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