Reading The News Can Keep You Healthy According To ACM Study

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B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

The second ACM Heartbeat of Australia study has reconfirmed the importance of a healthy news diet in fostering community connection and positive wellbeing.

In partnership with the University of Canberra, the study of more than 6,000 people was designed to track the sentiment of Australians; how they feel, their concerns, how they connect to their community and their relationship with local news and advertising. “Right now the number one issue of concern for Australians is the cost of living (75 per cent) and we’re seeing this more so in the under 45s (79 per cent),” said ACM research director Alex Mihalovich.

“The initial study in 2022 found that both physical and mental health were major concerns coming off the back of the pandemic but as we learn to live with Covid-19 and we’re faced with new challenges, our financial concerns have increased, directly as a result of our current economic situation,” said Mihalovich.

“The study shows the cost of living concerns are more prevalent amongst women (79 per cent), those under the age of 45 (79 per cent) and people living in the capital cities (77 per cent). Multiple factors contribute to this including the mental load of women in the household, the lack of savings and superannuation amongst youth and the rising cost of homes in the capital cities,

“When the second survey was conducted we’d just been served 10 consecutive rate rises so, unsurprisingly, in addition to the cost of living there is also widespread concern about financial debts, energy costs and housing affordability.” he said.

One of Heatbeat’s key findings is the significant role that credible local news publishers play in keeping communities connected (89 per cent). And that a connected community equates to a more positive and prosperous community. The study also found that 84 per cent of people believe local and regional news brands cover issues that affect the community well, and 84 per cent agree that it’s done better than national/international news brands.

ACM managing director, Tony Kendall, said, “We take very seriously our mission to support the communities we serve and this study shows that without a regional independent voice our communities have no trusted way of staying connected. Relevant news and information is vital for the sustainability of our regional towns.”

The question of which media is most trusted has long been debated and the Heartbeat research shows there are much higher levels of trust associated with local news brands compared to national news brands. This finding is a direct result of the relevance of the content. When people can immediately relate to content that aligns with their personal values and lifestyle they are much more likely to trust that content. News Media brands that cover large areas don’t have the luxury of changing their message for each regional community, which results in a disconnect between the consumer and the content.

Kendall continued, “Local news speaks directly to its audience. Whether it’s talking about local events, the newest cafe in town or the next big housing estate, our audience can instantly identify with what they are reading and this is where connections are built. A connection that local businesses and national brands should be leveraging.”

“Regional Australians who typically consume more local news than their metro counterparts feel that advertising and information about local businesses is more relevant to them because our advertisers tailor their messages. It’s also a pretty clear message to national brands that when they advertise in local news they should localise their message as much as possible to ensure relevance and, in turn, cut through.” Kendall said.

Trust in local news brands is particularly strong amongst ACM readers (67 per cent, 16 percentage points higher than non-readers), regional Australians (66 per cent) and those over the age of 45 (67 per cent). Distrust in social media continues to be an area of concern for over half of respondents.

“It’s very satisfying for the whole ACM team to know that our mastheads are trusted 16 per cent more than readers of other news sources.” Kendall said.

The Heartbeat research also shows a strong link between the consumption of information and levels of community connection. 78 per cent of survey respondents say that knowing what is going on in their community is the key driver of community connection.

“We have again found a direct correlation between those who consume local news and those who have a deeper sense of connection to their community and positive wellbeing and this comes down to the localised content,” Mihalovich said.

“We continue to see a clear connection between local news consumption and connection to the community. This connection has a positive impact on people’s well being and in turn leads to a more active cohort. Whether that be travelling, renovating, buying furniture or home appliances, this cohort has a higher propensity to act and this is amplified even higher amongst ACM readers.”



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