Reporting areas by news outlets

A news outlet’s reporting area was measured as the counties that a news outlet reported on at least twice within the previous 30 days for all media but magazines. Magazines’ reporting areas were based on content published in the previous year.

All 100 North Carolina counties were reported on by at least one news outlet. The counties that fell in the reporting areas of the most news outlets were Wake (41), Mecklenburg (40), Guilford (31), Durham (30), Buncombe (25), Alamance (24), Orange (23), Forsyth (23) and Iredell (23).

The counties that were in the reporting areas of the fewest outlets were Tyrrell (3), Perquimans (3), Hertford (4), Graham (4) and Mitchell (4).

The median number of outlets reporting on a North Carolina county was 11. Like with access, we split counties’ into four tiers based on statistical quartiles of the reporting area data:

  • Tier One: counties reported on by 3-7 outlets
  • Tier Two: counties reported on by 8-10 outlets
  • Tier Three: counties reported on by 11-13 outlets
  • Tier Four: counties reported on 14 outlets or more

Eastern North Carolina once again made up the bulk of Tier One counties, at 65% of counties receiving the least coverage. Central North Carolina counties made up 59% of Tier Four counties, or 59% of counties receiving the most coverage. Western North Carolina counties were pretty evenly divided across tiers, making up 22% of Tier One counties, 33% of Tier Two counties, 23% of Tier Three counties, and 25% of Tier Four counties.

Reporting area by newspapers

Newspapers reported on 95 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The median number of newspapers reporting on a county was two. The counties that were reported on by the most newspapers were Wake (15), Guilford (12), Durham (11), Mecklenburg (10), Forsyth (9), Davidson (8), Alamance (7) and Orange (7).

Tyrrell, Camden, Jones, Pamlico and Hyde counties were reported on by zero newspapers.

Reporting area by commercial television

Commercial television stations reported on all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The median number of commercial television stations reporting on a county was five. The counties that were reported on the most were: Mecklenburg (13), Wake (12), Iredell (11), Cabarrus (10), Caswell (10), Gaston (10) and Robeson (10).

The fewest number of commercial television stations that covered a county was one. Iredell, Gates, Macon and Graham counties each were reported on by one commercial television station.

Reporting area by commercial radio

Commercial radio stations reported on 81 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The median number of commercial radiostations reporting on a county was one. The counties that were reported on the most were: Orange (7), Wilkes (7), Caldwell (7), Durham (7) and Wake (6).

There were 19 outlets that were not reported on by commercial radio stations.

Reporting area by public radio

Public radio reported on 58 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The median number of public radio stations reporting on a county was one. The counties that the most public radio stations reported on were: Guilford (7), Mecklenburg (6), Cumberland (5), New Hanover (5), Pasquotank (5) and Craven (4).

There were 42 counties that public radio stations did not report on.

Reporting area by digital and magazines

Digital news outlets reported on 34 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The counties that digital outlets reported on the most were: Wake (5), Durham (5), Mecklenburg (5), Buncombe (3), and Craven (3). There were 66 counties that were not reported on by digital news outlets.

Magazines reported on four of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The counties that magazines reported on were: Ashe (1), Avery (1), Watauga (1) and Mecklenburg (1). There were 96 counties that were not covered by magazines.

Since there was only one public television outlet that provides local coverage, public television does not have further analysis. WUNC-TV, the state’s PBS hub, is considered a statewide outlet as its content is broadcast throughout the state on 11 repeater stations.

Next chapter

"NC News & Information Census" table of contents

  1. NC News & Information Census
  2. Outlet numbers
  3. Access to news outlets
  4. Reporting areas by news outlets
  5. Reporting and access gaps
  6. Conclusion
  7. Appendix: Methods
  8. Assessing factors that contribute to local news coverage at the county level