A vast majority of Americans (84 percent) admit they didn’t pay for local news coverage of any kind in the past year, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center.

Why did only 14 percent feel compelled to pay for a local print or digital news service in the last year? According to the Pew Research Center’s report, about half of those who said they don’t pay for the news (49 percent) cited the availability of free, alternative sources that give them all the local news coverage they need.


More than a quarter (26 percent) admitted they’re not interested enough in the local news to pay for it and 12 percent said it’s too expensive. Only 10 percent said the news in their area isn’t of high enough quality.

Incredibly, while most don’t pay for news services operating in the area where they reside, few simultaneously believe that their local news outlets aren’t flourishing financially: a remarkable 71 percent of those surveyed believe that their local news outlets are doing at least somewhat well financially, if not “very well.”

The numbers make more sense when news medium is factored into the equation, as it’s clear that more Americans cite TV as their preferred format for local news coverage than newspapers (86 percent versus 68 percent). More than three-quarters of those surveyed (77 percent) believe their local TV stations are doing at least “somewhat well” financially, while only 64 percent said the same for their area newspaper.

The study also discovered that those who prefer print are those most likely to pay for the news. More than a third of those who cite print as their news medium of choice (39 percent) said they pay for it via a subscription or membership. A third of those who prefer print also believe their local news publishers are not doing well financially, compared to only 18 percent who get their news via TV.

A majority of Americans (70 percent) said the weather is the most important local news topic they follow daily.

The Pew report surveyed about 35,000 U.S. adults living in 99 different regions around the U.S. Research was conducted between October and November.