A study of local radio news in three cities found that half the stories on local radio news were about local events. At the same time, the medium registered the shallowest sourcing of any medium studied and its stories usually explored the fewest angles.
Indeed, the radio news studied rarely involved sending reporters out to explore the community and tell stories about local voices and personalities, the hallmarks of traditional local news coverage. Only 14% of stories involved reporters in the field and most of those were either network syndicated stories or on NPR.
Instead, what listeners got was headlines read from wires or provided by national networks, almost always less than a minute and often less than 30 seconds, lots of weather and traffic updates and musings from the host or others. (before you start feeling guilty about that, read the recap of our 3/7/06 client only teleconference)
The report adds that Radio does, however, offer citizens more opportunity than other local media to offer their own views or to hear from neighbors, though there is little verification of the information exchanged.
The new paradox of journalism is more outlets are covering fewer stories. As the number of news outlets grows, generally the audiences of each one shrinks, and news organizations cut back on resources. Yet they still all have to cover the big stories. Thus on most major events, we have more reporters, but fewer stories are being covered generally. A close look at the big news websites even demonstrates it. Google News offers access within two clicks to 14,000 stories, but really they are accounts of just 24 news events.