From August 3–10, 2022, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey to better understand attitudes about local news, as explored in previous surveys. A description of the methodology used for the research is provided below.
The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q1–5B). Due to rounding, the percentages reported below may not add to 100% or compare exactly to the percentages for the same question in the annotated questionnaire or tabs.
Who Follows Local News?
Two-thirds of Oregonians follow local news and community issues at least somewhat closely (64%). College graduates are among the most likely to follow local issues somewhat or very closely (80%) (Q1).
By comparison, 47% of high school graduates focus on these issues somewhat or very closely, along with 67% of folks with some college education.
Men are significantly more likely than women to say they keep somewhat or very close tabs on local news (67% to 61%).
Those with household incomes of $50,000 or more are more likely to follow the local news than those who make less (64-76% compared to 58%).
Websites and Apps are More Popular Amongst Oregonians
Oregonians are most likely to get their local news from websites and apps (70%) (Q2E), word of mouth (67%) (Q2I), and Google searches (65%) (Q2G).
Regardless of demographic category, Oregonians most often favor accessing local news through websites and apps (Q2A-Q2I). Overall percentage point differences between groups are low in comparison to other forms of media (Q2E).
Those living in the Tri-county region are a bit more likely than those living in the Willamette Valley or the rest of the state to use websites and apps to get their local news (73% compared to 65% of those in the Willamette Valley and 71% in the rest of the state).
Just 44% of Oregonians say they get their local news from print publications, with slightly higher usage from those living in the Tri-county region compared to those in Willamette Valley and other areas of the state (47% compared to 41-43%) (Q2D).
College grads are twice as likely to get their news from print publications compared to those with a high school diploma or less (60% compared to 29%). Oregonians with at least some college under their belt fall about halfway between at 46%.
Differences by annual income follow a similar trend, but to a lesser degree. Oregonians with an annual income of at least $100,000 are more likely to get local news from print publications (59%) than those who make $50,000 to $100,000, or those who make less than $50,000 (44% and 38%, respectively).
Podcasts and Neighborhood-Based Sites
Residents are least likely to get their news from podcasts (20%) or neighborhood-based sites like NextDoor (29%), but neighborhood sites have a dedicated albeit smaller following (Q2C, Q2H).
There is no single demographic group that stands out as more invested in NextDoor and similar sites than others, with most groups hovering between one-quarter and one-third of residents invested (Q2H).
This is most popular among those living in the Tri-county region and the Willamette Valley, compared to those living in less populated areas of the state (31-34% compared to 22%).
Which Local Organizations Provide News For You?
Respondents were asked which specific local organization most often provides them with news and information about their area of Oregon (Q3).
The two news sources most frequently mentioned by Tri-county and Willamette Valley residents are The Oregonian/OregonLive and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).
In the Portland metro area and the Willamette Valley, major news stations like ABC or CBS were mentioned, but more commonly residents pointed directly to the local stations, such as KGW, Fox12, and KATU.
In southern and coastal Oregon, residents rely on smaller papers (or online papers) representing specific regions. There are also a few favorite radio and TV stations that provide more local content (Q3).
For print or written media, residents say they rely on Grants Pass Daily Courier (Josephine County), Herald and News (Klamath County), The Daily Astorian (Clatsop County) and Tillamook County Pioneer (Tillamook County).
For television, the primary regional channels mentioned include KOBI (Jackson and Klamath Counties) and KPIC (Douglas and Coos Counties).
Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) was mentioned by folks from Josephine, Jackson, and Coos Counties.
In urban cores across the state, weekly papers (or some alternative) are popular. Other rural cities are served by small, traditional outlets (Q3).
Portland area residents rely on the Willamette Week, and folks in Deschutes and Lane Counties similarly rely on the Bend Bulletin and Eugene Weekly for local news.
In other urban areas outside the Tri-county region, people rely on Albany Democrat Herald (Linn County), Columbia Gorge News (Wasco County), Corvallis Gazette Times (Benton County), and East Oregonian (Umatilla).
For non-media organizations, residents also say they rely on the newsletters and social media presence of their city or county for local updates (Q5A).
The city governments of Bend, Beaverton, Portland, Salem, Sherwood, West Linn were mentioned, along with Clackamas County.
Reliability, Trust, and Satisfaction
A strong majority of Oregonians say they can trust local news organizations for information about community issues (75%) (Q4).
Those more likely to follow local issues in the first place exhibit the strongest trust in local reporting. For example, 83% of college educated Oregonians trust their local news, compared to 67% of high school graduates.
There are no significant differences in levels of trust when comparing the Tri-county region, Willamette Valley, and rest of the state.
Similarly, two-thirds of Oregonians are satisfied with local news sources (64%) (Q5).
Despite differences between groups in how closely residents track local news, satisfaction is quite stable across groups, with most reporting 60–70% satisfaction. One notable difference is between regions, with just 56% of those living in the Willamette Valley expressing satisfaction, compared to 67-68% of those living in the Tri-county region and the rest of the state.
Many Oregonians Think Local News is More Accurate
Many, but certainly not all, residents believe local news is more balanced and accurate than national news (Q5A).
“The information is always accurate and unbiased.”Woman, age 18-29, Jackson County, Hispanic or Latino/a/x
“They seem to allow all sides to present.”Man, age 65–74, Coos County, Black or African American
“I believe that the more local the news, the more it is likely to be accurate.”Man, age 65–74, Multnomah County, white
Criticisms of Local News
Frustration with a perceived lack of objectivity was a strong theme among people’s reasons for dissatisfaction with local news. Regardless of region, a top complaint for Oregonians regarding local news is biased reporting (34%) (Q5b).
Other criticisms related to non-objectivity included the following:
- Not accurate: untruthful, exaggerated, clickbait, overhyped stories, cater to developers or advertisers (15%)
- Too liberal: leftist perspective/lens, government/Democrat-controlled (10%)
- Corporate influence: not objective, need local ownership (7%)
- Too opinionated: not factual, too much editorial (6%)
- No positive stories/all negative, anxiety-provoking (4%)
- Too conservative: rightwing slant (1%)
- Unfair representation of BIPOC Oregonians (1%)
“Their politics are one-sided.”Man, age 55-64, Clackamas County, Asian
“Their agenda seems very biased and doesn’t report, in my opinion, newsworthy news often. Or it glorifies something that happens which glorifies the wrongdoings of said person, which then is like a revolving door for things to keep happening. Often why I hate watching news.”Man, age 30-44, Washington County, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander and white
“Almost universally for-profit, and so unwilling to provide negative coverage on the businesses they depend on for advertising revenue.”Man, age 30-44, Multnomah County, white
“Most of the news has no relevance to me. Almost all news is not news but opinions. I just want the facts. I can form my own opinion.”Man, age 45-54, Lincoln County, Hispanic/Latino/x
Lack of News Coverage of Certain Areas
The second-most popular reason for dissatisfaction with local news is a lack of local coverage. 18% of those who are dissatisfied cite a lack of coverage in their area of Oregon, or too much focus on Portland or national news (18%) (Q5b).
“Our local paper never covers city/county advisory/adjudication boards unless it’s something controversial. […] Most people in our area can’t name two or more people on city/county council or any of the boards that advise or adjudicate for them because the local paper does such a bad job of keeping us informed.”Woman, age 55–64, Clatsop County, white
“Since selling to out-of-state owners with no interest in (beyond $), knowledge of or connection with our community; just a couple “local” reporters, instead using employees in Texas who compile 2 skinny sections from the internet/AP, the Register-Guard is no longer a reliable source of information. Every issue I’ve perused has been rife with inaccuracies betraying their complete lack of familiarity – Eugeneans know better.”Man, age 18-29, Lane County, Native American, American Indian or Alaska Native and white
“Print news out of date or relies heavily on national sources (AP, big city editorial, etc.).”Woman, age 55-64, Douglas County, white
“They combined the Canby Herald and Molalla Pioneer into one paper and now rarely cover Molalla events.”Woman, age 18-29, Clackamas County, white
“We used to have a local daily paper, which was recently discontinued. There is not really a good source for finding out what’s happening, either in politics, business, environment, or entertainment.”Woman, age 55–64, Jackson County, white
Some Oregonians Cite Poor Quality News
Other reasons for dissatisfaction include poor quality (11%); a lack of depth or follow-up (11%); a desire for different content or a feeling that specific content is missing (9%); general mistrust (5%); too few reporters (3%); barriers to access such as paywalls or no mail service (2%); stories are delayed, not timely (2%).
Some people in urban and rural areas alike feel that local news organizations leave out important stories of identity and community priorities. (Q5B).
“I feel like some areas of interest are excluded, such as issues affecting low-income people, the LGBTQ+ community and POC.”Woman, age 30–44, Jackson County, white (5a)
“I feel like the news in Portland makes Black people look bad.”Woman, age 18–29, Multnomah County, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino/a/x, and another race (5a)
“I have little to no opinion, but what opinion I do have is pretty dissatisfying. They seem to focus only on wealthy white people with Republican views, logging, and other things that don’t resonate with me.”Woman, age 45–54, Douglas County, white (5b)
“Not addressing the housing crisis and the cost of living outpacing wages.”Man, age 18-29, Linn County, Native American, American Indian, or Alaska Native and white
Local News Should Include More Truly Local Issues
There is no statewide consensus on whether local news organizations are able to focus on truly local issues, as opposed to reprinting statewide or national news. The issue may reflect resources available in each region of the state (Q5A, Q5B).
“This is a small population but geographically large county. To provide insightful publications in such a place is a challenge they have risen to.”Woman, age 30–44, Tillamook County, Hispanic or Latino/a/x and white (5a)
“Occasionally inaccurate or missing details. Local newspaper does not have enough local reporters and its merger with neighboring area newspapers has diluted the city news.”Man, age 65-74, Benton County, Asian (5a)
“They seem to provide coverage of key issues but don’t always press for hard answers.”Man, age 30–44, Clatsop County, white (5a)
“Our local paper never covers city/county advisory/adjudication boards unless it’s something controversial. Most people in our area can’t name two or more people on city/county council or any of the boards that advise or adjudicate for them because the local paper does such a bad job of keeping us informed.”Woman, age 55–64, Clatsop County, white (5b)
“Print news out of date or relies heavily on national sources (AP, big city editorial, etc.).”Woman, age 55-64, Douglas County, white (5b)
“We used to have a local daily paper, which was recently discontinued. There is not really a good source for finding out what’s happening, either in politics, business, environment, or entertainment.”Woman, age 55–64, Jackson County, white (5b)
Identifying What Unites Us, Understanding What Divides Us
Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, urban and rural Oregonians, and age groups. Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.
OVBC surveys currently use aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.
- Oregonians 65 and older are much more likely than their younger peers to track local news issues somewhat or very closely (78-82%) (Q1).
- This figure drops steadily as ages decrease. For example, 73% of 55–74 year-olds keep a somewhat close eye on local issues, along with 55% of people 30–44.
- People under 30 are the least likely to pay attention to local news issues somewhat or very closely (47%).
- Young residents share significant distrust in local news organizations for community information (Q4).
- More than one-quarter of residents under 45 say they don’t trust information about community issues that comes from local news organizations (27–28% compared to 15-18% of those 65 or older).
- Meanwhile, those 65 and older—who report following local issues closely—are overwhelmingly trusting of local news organizations (80–85% compared to 66-69% of those 18-44).
- Young people are heavily reliant on social media and word of mouth for information about local or neighborhood issues (Q2F, Q2I).
- Four out of five Oregonians under 30 rely on social media for local updates (80%), compared to 63-67% of those 30-54; 45–49% of those 55-74; and 24% of those 75 or older (Q2F).
- Similarly, 70% of people under 30 and 74% of people 30–44 rely on word of mouth for local information. Among those 45 or older, this figure ranges from 61–67% (Q2I).
- The top reported social media outlet is Facebook. A handful of respondents said they get local updates from Reddit, Instagram, or TikTok (open responses, Q5A).
- Rural Oregonians are less reliant on television for local news, perhaps because their media markets offer less compelling programming (Q2A).
- Fewer than half of rural residents stay up to date on local news through TV (48%), compared to 55% of urban residents and 60% of suburban residents (Q2A).
- On the other hand, rural residents are more likely than suburbanites to rely on word of mouth for neighborhood and local issues (71% to 61%).
- Urban residents are also reliant on word of mouth (74%), likely due to the influence of young residents in the urban core who also prefer word of mouth (Q2I).
- There are essentially no differences between rural, rural changing to suburban, suburban, and urban residents when it comes to websites and news apps for local news (68–74%) (Q2E).
- BIPOC residents are less likely than white Oregonians to report following local news closely (55% compared to 67%) (Q1).
- One in five BIPOC residents say they don’t follow these issues closely at all (20%), compared to 11% of white residents.
- BIPOC Oregonians are significantly more likely than white Oregonians to say their dissatisfaction with local news stems from poor quality or amateurish reporting (22% compared 8%) (Q5B).
- BIPOC Oregonians tend to access news about local politics or local issues differently than white Oregonians (Q2A-I).
- 73% of BIPOC Oregonians search Google or other search engines for local news, compared to 62% of white Oregonians (Q2G).
- Additionally, 69% of BIPOC residents rely on social media for news, compared to 56% of white residents (Q2F).
- BIPOC Oregonians are more likely than white Oregonians to get news about local issues from podcasts (BIPOC: 28%; white: 18%) (Q2C).
- White Oregonians rely on print publications for local information more than BIPOC Oregonians do (white: 46%; BIPOC: 39%) (Q2D).
Methodology: The online survey consisted of 1,781 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.
Statement of Limitations: Based on a 95% confidence interval, this survey’s margin of error for the full sample ±2.32%. Due to rounding or multiple answer questions, response percentages may not add up to 100%.