Information Needs and Habits of Philadelphia residents

Being Informed: A Study of the Information Needs and Habits of Philadelphia Residents

The Lenfest Institute, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, commissioned SSRS to conduct focus groups with residents of Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs.

unctioning local news ecosystem is a critical component of a thriving community. In Philadelphia, the “City of Neighborhoods,” local journalism is produced by everyone from mainstream local media to hyperlocal and niche publications. As the city population grows and diversifies, and new information products and trends emerge, the Philadelphia Information Ecosystem must evolve and adapt to respond to residents’ needs. This is increasingly true as the cultural battles of national politics fracture trust between local residents, and as the growing presence of misinformation weakens trust in both the media and government.

Amid the challenges and opportunities facing local news outlets, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is among the first organizations focused solely on the role of local journalism in democracy. Its work aims to sustain and improve a healthy ecosystem where every citizen  is heard and represented. This principle of community listening was a driving force behind Being Informed: A Study of the Information Needs and Habits of Philadelphia residents. The Institute also believes in a human-centered approach to building sustainable local news and information businesses, and this study also aims to inspire new products to serve citizens’ needs.

This study, co-authored by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, examines a small sample of Philadelphia residents and identifies significant trends that cut across all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds. The findings may debunk some assumptions about their news needs, and will offer insights into the waning trust consumers place in regional media.