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News Literacy Week: The difference between local and national news

Scripps, News Literacy Project kick off public awareness campaign in lead-up to National News Literacy Week
Posted at 6:37 PM, Jan 29, 2021

(WXYZ) — Here in Metro Detroit, you have many choices for news among local stations, newspapers, networks, and cable news. There are similarities and major differences.

You can get your news on your phone, on your TV, on a streaming device. But who is sending you that news can be vastly different.

“Local news is strong in presenting factual cases of what’s actually going on,” says Dustin Carnahan, a Michigan State University Assistant Professor in Communications and Politics.

Local news people are your neighbors. You see them on TV and at the grocery store. They understand what’s relevant. They build relationships and inside sources. Trust and credibility are their stock in trade.

“Trust in the media has been a big and growing problem over the years. But one of the glimmers of hope is local news,” says Robert Yoon, a Visting Professor of Communications and Media at the University of Michigan and Associate Director of the Knight Wallace Fellowships for Journalists.

Many websites and cable TV channels are not just different forms of news but also different business models. Cable news is on all day and night. They want your eyeballs there as long as possible by providing you information.

“They have a lot of opinion on. They have people, sometimes experts, sometimes not very, that are just there to fill the time and share their ideas about things. They’re not held accountable for those ideas,” says Amanda Lotz, who does a Podcast on How Cable Transformed Television and is a Professor at Queensland University of Technology.

The election is where you could see it all, different angles, alternative facts, fake news, mainstream media. As the nation was divided so were your choices to get news.

“There’s considerable risk in conflating all media together,” Professor Lotz says.

Professor Carnahan goes further saying, “wow, we’re so detached from reality we are unwilling to accept truth when it runs against our goals or our values or world view.”

And then there was the siege on the U. S. Capitol, “if we don’t have at least a common understanding of what is factual and what isn’t, we’re never going to be able to have constructive conversations about solutions and about different approaches to achieving hopefully the same goal. And I think that’s the one thing we have to remember, we all have the same goal.

“Local news can play a big part in terms of combatting misinformation. Local news sources enjoy a much higher level of trust than national news sources,” says Professor Yoon.

One more thing, social media is not necessarily news. It is what people post and what the algorithm thinks you want to see. Like cable TV, they want you on as long as possible to see their ads.