The Lenfest institute
for Journalism

Photo of Chairman, H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest

H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, 1930-2018

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

A functioning 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.

From picking up a newspaper to scrolling through a Facebook feed, there are ever more ways people consume their daily news diet. This study divides major findings into information needs, information sources, consumption habits, participants’ recommendations, and final conclusions and recommendations.

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High-Impact Journalism

Quality, in-depth reporting remains the fundamental value proposition bewteen local news oragnizations and their audiences. The Lenfest Institute invests in indispensable, public-benefit journalism for the communities it serves.

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News Technology & Innovation

To survive and to thrive, local news enterprises mus be nimble, tech-enabled and committed to constant innovation. Investing in the technical muscle of news organizations and introducing new tools improve customer experience, audience engagement, and operational efficiency, all key to business sustainability.

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Diverse, growing audiences

Diverse and inclusive newsrooms attract diverse and growing audiences. Our investments in newsroom diversity, community listening projects and multi-cultural news media address one of journalism’s biggest challenges and one of its greatest opportunities.

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Leadership

The Lenfest Institute for Journalism has a passionate and diverse Executive Leadership team and Board of Managers committed to developing and advancing sustainable journalism.

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