Supporting Local News in America

By Gary Roundtree, Managing Editor, MSN Local 

Local news is at a crossroads. In an evolving media landscape where news is often freely accessible, many local news providers are struggling to find sufficient revenue to sustain their reporting and operations.

A comprehensive recent study from the Pew Research Center illuminates national trends in local news consumption, and illustrates some of the challenges facing local news outlets in the US. According to the Pew survey, nearly nine out of ten Americans today access at least some of their local news digitally. The data also show that Americans now prefer to consume local news online at rates nearly equal to those of local television news.

Statistics on the financial health of local news outlets, however, are sobering. In a 2018 report, the University of North Carolina noted that the US has lost nearly 1,800 newspapers since 2004. Of the 7,112 that remained, around 5,500 had a circulation of 15,000 or less. Two out of three counties in the United States now have no daily newspaper, and 200 counties have no local newspaper at all, as an ever-growing number of American communities are at risk of becoming “news deserts.”

Americans trust local news providers at a higher rate than they do national news providers, though the Pew survey showed a critical disconnect in Americans’ understanding of local media health. Per the survey, most people believed their local news outlets are doing fine financially—but just 14% of those surveyed directly supported any of their local news outlets in the form of subscriptions, donations or memberships. Supporting your hometown newspaper through subscriptions (whether digital, print or both) is an important step towards maintaining local journalism in your area, but more can and must be done to sustain local news for the long term.

Microsoft News & Local

Microsoft News is partnering with local & regional newspapers, television stations and digital-first news & information providers to serve you locally-relevant news every day—and in doing so, providing an additional revenue stream for local journalists to support their critical work. You may have noticed some of your local news providers being featured on your homepage, as well as on the homepage of your Microsoft Edge browser. Combining human and machine content curation, Microsoft News editors are now delivering local news to dozens of metro areas across the country, providing articles and videos on news, sports, restaurants, real estate and other topics and events happening in your region.

To expand your local news options, you can also select and follow local news from multiple cities—just click “Personalize” at the top of your Edge browser homepage, then click the “plus” icon for any of our local Interests, and news from that region will appear in your customized news results:

We hope you enjoy our local news offerings and support the organizations that create it. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to expand our local coverage for the Microsoft News audience, delivering even more high-quality news & information from local news providers you know and trust.