Whenever a reporter refers to people in a story as “locals,” I cringe.
That word carries an odor of unexamined condescension. And you do not have to be a coastal elitist doing parachute journalism at some burg in the interior. Any reporter, by definition a cosmopolitan sophisticate, feels free to use the term to identify the quaint folk whose preoccupations and doings they are recording.
Then, too, one is aware of how frequently local has been made to rhyme with yokel, an echo that does not fade.
Someone who lives in a place is a resident, a nice little neutral term that is easy to spell.