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Suburbanites are the biggest news junkies, study finds

A new Pew study finds they’re more interested in the news than their urban counterparts — and more willing to pay for it.

A new Pew study suggests major newspapers' shift of resources to suburban coverage may have been justified.
REUTERS/Jason Reed

For decades, major newspapers have devoted a growing share of resources to suburban news coverage.

Journalists — nearly all of whom would rather cover a big city than a sleepy suburb — invariably complain about what they see as a crass business decision. Just as invariably, the financial side prevails.

It turns out that the bean counters were onto something. Suburban dwellers are more interested in the news than their urban counterparts — and more willing to pay for it. That’s according to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

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Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project
Besides being more interested in the news, residents of suburbs were also more likely to believe they can make a positive impact on their community.

Pew broke residents into four geographic groups: large city, suburb near large city, small town and rural. And suburban residents ranked highest on a range of measurements of engagement with the news. Suburban residents are most likely to:

  • Say they “enjoy keeping up with the news”
  • Follow national news closely
  • Follow news of taxes, traffic and transportation, and housing (no surprise there, perhaps)
  • Follow news of restaurants, clubs, arts and culture (big surprise there, perhaps)
  • Watch local TV broadcasts and listen to local radio broadcasts
  • Have a paid subscription to a local newspaper
  • Participate in local news by posting comments, emailing stories or sharing links on Facebook and Twitter

At one of the newspapers I worked for, I spent a couple of years in a suburban bureau office. I fought like hell to get out of that bureau and into the main downtown newsroom.

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Funny to think that I may have been fighting to get away from the very people who were most interested in what I was doing.