If you’re like many of the people who participated in a recent survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & America Life Project, you probably find yourself tuning into your favorite social media channel to find answers to that question.
The surveys, conducted in San Jose, Philadelphia, and Macon, Ga., revealed that residents of these towns feel their local news media does a good job serving their communities. However, many also said they visit social media sites for information. More specifically, survey respondents said that they now get local news from:
• social networking sites like Facebook (32 percent),
• blogs (19 percent),
• mobile devices like smart-phones (12 percent) and
• Twitter (7 percent).
In addition, the research found that people who believe their local government does a good job sharing information are more likely than others to feel satisfied with civic life.
“There have been vast changes in the local news and information landscape in recent years,” Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project and an author of a report on the findings, said. “One of the key insights here is that citizens have new ways to assess the performance of city hall. They are paying attention to how transparent their government is. If they feel public agencies are forthcoming, they also feel better about other parts of town.”
According to the Pew Research Center, one of the real surprises in the surveys was that those who have broadband connections at home are more likely to be critical of elements of the local information ecosystem. Tony Siesfeld, report author and head of research for the Monitor Institute suggested that broadband is “raising ‘the bar’ on information transparency.”
Research like this is a good reminder that social media is quickly becoming woven into the fabric of everyday life –for personal communication, entertainment, marketing, customer service and general information flow within and about communities.