Nearly half (47%) of adults get at least some local news and information via their smartphones or tablet computers. While mobile does not top the list of preferred sources for any of the 16 topics asked about, it is clearly a widely-used supplemental source. Thirty-six percent of all adults used a smartphone or tablet computer to check weather reports; 31% used those mobile devices to find local restaurants or local businesses; 25% used mobile devices to get news about their local community; and 20% used those mobile devices to check local sports scores and get updates. In addition, 13% of adults say they get news alerts about their community sent to their phones via text message or email. And 11% of adults say they get local news from applicationson their smartphones.

On the participatory side, 41% of adults can be considered “local news participators.” This designation means they engaged in at least one of any number of participatory activities, such as sharing links to local news stories or videos online with others, commenting on local news stories or blogs, orposting news information about their community on social sites like Facebook, among other things.

Online social networks have yet to become a primary source for most areas of local information. Only very small percentages of respondents named social networks as the place they turn to most for any of the 16 topics areas that were asked about. For instance, the topics upon which social networks were most relied were local restaurants and community events– just 2% of adults named these sites as a key source. For the other 14 types of community news and information, social networks were cited even less often.

These findings are included in a new study produced by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Internet & American Life Project in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.