Study: Local TV Still Most Trusted News Source

A national study by Smith-Geiger for Hearst Television finds that four out of five younger video consumers rely on local news from a TV station — across broadcast and digital platforms — each week.

The overwhelming majority of adults 18-49 consider local television to be the most trusted source of news and information, according to a national survey of consumers conducted by market-research firm SmithGeiger for Hearst Television.

Eighty-one percent of 18-49-year-old video consumers are using local TV news at least once a week on at least one platform, the study finds. Sixty-three percent get news and information from a local TV station’s local news program on TV at least once a week, while 49% watch on TV every day.

And the majority of younger consumers — 51% of those 18-24 and 59% of those 25-34 — say they get their news on a local TV newscast on TV at least once a week.

Underscoring the enduring trust placed in local television news, 73% of news consumers — 69% of ages 18-24 and 74% of ages 25-49 — trust at least one local TV news brand in their market. Local TV far outdistances any other news source, on air or on digital platforms, in this category.

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“At a time when journalism is under unprecedented scrutiny, with consumers juggling an overwhelming number of providers and platforms from which to get information, quality and relevance matter more than ever,” said Barbara Maushard, Hearst Television SVP of news. “Local news teams are best positioned, as members of the communities they serve, to cover what matters to people within each and every community — and to get it right.”

Hearst said the continued trust placed in local TV news “stands in stark contrast to that placed in newer platforms, despite shifting video-consumption habits.” While the findings underscore the growth of social-media outlets as news venues — 74% use social media every day for news and info — social media sites are trusted by 17% or fewer of consumers as a source for news, compared to 73% for local TV news.


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“Even with the proliferation of choices available to local news consumers today, local TV news stations continue to be a primary source of video-based news and information across a broad range of age groups,” said Seth Geiger, president of SmithGeiger. “And while millennials typically check their social media feeds for news headlines, it is local news at the source that they trust.”

SmithGeiger conducted 2,069 online interviews with media consumers across eight Hearst television markets. Respondents watch TV content on any device or platform (TV, PC, smartphone, tablet, social media), in linear or non-linear mode.

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