A new survey by MVM Consulting shows NPR member stations around the U.S. are growing their local news staffs, increasing their local news airtime, and beefing up their local online news content.
The survey reveals high levels of actual growth last year and similar levels of predicted growth this year.
Expansion of Local NPR Newsroom Staffing
The growth begins with news staffing. More than 40% of NPR member stations grew their full-time local news staffs slightly or significantly in 2012.
Looking ahead to 2013, another 38% of NPR stations are optimistic they’ll be growing full-time news staffs. Only 4% expect they’ll be downsizing. The largest share, 58%, expect to maintain current levels of newsroom staffing.
These are healthy signs — even healthier than the growth estimates of 2010, when a similar survey found a fourth (27%) of all public radio stations grew their local news staffing, while 14% had cut back during the national recession.
Major Increases in Online Content
The survey also found an ummistakeable emphasis on advancing local news online.
Almost two-thirds of local NPR stations say they increased (slightly or significantly) their local online news content last year.
Local News Airtime on the Upswing
The survey also asked station leaders about changes in the amount of local news or public affairs on air.
While 60% reported no change in 2012, a third of stations said they expanded local news on air.
About the Survey
The 2012 Survey of Stations was conducted by Michael V. Marcotte of MVM Consulting in coordination with the University of Nevada School of Journalism, where Marcotte is a visiting professor. Collaborating on the invitation only, online survey was PhD candidate Sandra Evans of The Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. 136 stations participated, 103 of them were NPR members.