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Local News Station Survey

As part of the information gathered about member stations' local news reporting capacities, NPR Audience & Corporate Research designed and fielded a survey for NPR Member stations. These findings provide insight into the best approaches to enhance the capacity of member stations to provide quality, in-depth local news reporting.

The Local News Station Surveys consisted of two separate targeted surveys. All NPR Member stations were invited to participate in both.

Key Findings:

  • There are approximately 500 news reporters in the public radio system (of which more than 2/3 is full-time). There are also 160 news directors, 150 news producers, and 100 news editors.
  • Stations reported constraints in available staffing and funding to support both their existing and planned reporting capacity.
  • Most stations had explicit plans to expand local news coverage and are active in the production and use of local news...
  • ...yet few of its member station organizations have strong local news reporting capacity with more than a few dedicated full-time reporters, producers or editors.
  • Nearly all stations produce local newscasts. Stations devote most of their local news coverage to state/city/politics, schools and education, arts & cultural events, environment, health, and business issues.
  • Less than half of all stations said that their reporters work is edited by someone else all the time before being broadcast.
  • The majority of stations exchange news stories with either public radio stations and/or with other state/regional news networks. More than half of stations said that their local 'non-radio' media does not file stories for their station.
  • Slightly more than one-tenth of stations of stations have secured endowments or other special funding to specifically support station's news and public affairs programming. One out of five stations have obtained grants to fund reporter expenses