Exploring the Information Needs and Habits of Rhode Islanders

Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, Yinjiao Ye, Hillary Leonard, Renee Hobbs

Citizens can make good decisions about their communities only when they possess timely, relevant and useful information that helps them make decisions. How does the local news media support the information needs of the people who live in the communities they serve? What are perceptions among citizens about the availability of credible, high quality information? This study will examine the state and context of the Rhode Island local news media marketplace and how the availability of news aligns with the perceived needs of Rhode Islanders for local information.  The SSIREP research team will explore the range, type and availability of information that Rhode Islanders access in the context of decision-making for daily and community life. We will use several methods for approaching different aspects of this research question, including focus groups with Rhode Island residents, a large-N survey, interviews of news producers, and a content analysis of local news. This project has been funded by the Rhode Island Foundation. As part of the first component of this research, SSIREP conducted a survey of 600 Rhode Island residents about their views of the state and local news landscape including their Coronavirus and pandemic related local news. 
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