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Notley/Monitor Poll: Austinites value local news but disagree on quality

Friday, July 15, 2022 by Joel Gross

Nearly seven in 10 Austinites believe that local news is important to them personally, but only 36 percent rate highly the quality of local news reporting, according to a June survey of 507 likely voters commissioned by Notley and conducted by Change Research for the Austin Monitor.

When broken down by party identification, the importance of local news remains consistent across all parties at greater than 65 percent. However, the perceived quality of local news reporting is lower and varies across party lines, with only 42 percent of Democrats giving local news reporting a “high-quality” rating and 45 percent of Republicans giving a “low-quality” rating. Thirty-eight percent of independents rated local news reporting as neither high nor low quality. 

This party divergence among Austin respondents related to local news quality is loosely aligned with national trends when it comes to trust in the media. A 2021 national Gallup poll revealed that 68 percent of Democrats, 31 percent of independents and 11 percent of Republicans say they trust the media a “great deal” or a “fair” amount. 

The poll also questioned Austinites about the relevance of local news as it relates to where they live or work. The majority of respondents, 56 percent, said the local news is relevant and this remained consistent across sex, ethnicity and level of education. The poll did find that assessed relevance of local news increases with age. Forty-three percent of residents aged 18-34 viewed the local news as relevant compared to 59 percent of residents aged 35-49 and 65 percent of residents aged 50-64.   

When it comes to the local news industry at large, there’s no shortage of stories and data points showing the clear struggles facing local newsrooms across the country. As we shared in our mid-year review, our friends over at The Texas Tribune just published a story revealing that, since 2005, Texas has lost more newspaper journalists per capita than all but two other states.

One vital function of local news is to keep a finger on the pulse of the community. Austin is one of the most dynamic and visible cities in the country, and these poll results provide a more nuanced and deeper understanding of the state of our community. A majority of Austin voters think Austin is headed in the wrong direction and nearly two-thirds believe Austin’s growth has been negative. Affordability is a major issue, most disapprove of City Council and Austinites are highly motivated to get out and vote

Local news is both important and relevant to Austinites, but you want higher quality reporting. We’ll take that challenge. Late last year we took a major step forward in our service to the community and removed our paywall, making all of our news and resources fully accessible. 

The response from the community has been incredible, and initiatives like this poll story series and data journalism are on our road map to further elevate our service to you and your connection to Austin. It’s clearly an important time in our city, and we look forward to closely following and reporting on the issues and decisions that are shaping our community. 

In a poll commissioned by Notley for the Austin Monitor, Change Research surveyed 507 likely voters in Austin, Texas, from June 24-29, 2022. The modeled margin of error for the survey is 4.7 percent, which uses effective sample sizes that adjust for the design effect of weighting. Complete survey results and methodology can be found here.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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