Friday, July 12, 2013

If It's a Need, It Leads: Why Local News is Reporting Less Crime and More Traffic/Weather

When I was living in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I found a local blog that was a great way to stay informed about the neighborhood. The blog,, featured stories on new restaurants and stores, on movies being filmed in the neighborhood, and on free or inexpensive events on the weekends. Quite simply, it was news that people could use to make decisions about how to spend their time and money in their community.

Sites like MyUpperWest represent a shift from the local news of the past few decades. Acording to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, local TV news shows are spending less time on crime stories, and more time on traffic and weather. In my view, the reason is clear and simple: people want news they can use. Maybe it's the endless stream of crime shows on TV, or the reality of living with the constant threat of terrorism? Or maybe it's the economy, which has left many people both un- and under-employed and worried about their financial futures?  Either way, local TV news seems to be getting the picture: people are less fascinated by violence, and more intrigued by how to enjoy life on tight budgets. The old mantra -- if it bleeds, it leads -- has been replaced with -- if it's a need, it leads.

Now that I moved to Forest Hills, I have been picking up the local newspapers and reading them on a regular basis to learn about my neighborhood. And if I find anything like, or hear about a major traffic jam on the Grand Central, I will be sure to let you know.

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