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State of the News Media study reveals less reporting power, less content and more disappointed consumers

Is reduced content prompting news consumers to change their media diet?

Tampa Bay Times

Is reduced content prompting news consumers to change their media diet?



The woes of the news industry have taken centerstage in the latest State of the News Media report prepared by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Overall, the report paints the picture of a news media diminished by cutbacks and challenged by competition from new, non-journalism digital media companies. The most eye-opening statistic: 31-percent of respondents, one in three, sad they deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the information they had grown used to seeing (48 percent named less complete stories, while 31 percent noticed fewer stories).

In newspapers, the report says staffing is down 30 percent from an industry high in 2000, below a total 40,000 professionals for the first time since 1978.

In local TV, sports weather and traffic now fill 40 percent of newscasts, as story lengths shrink. Even on CNN, a channel known for its reporting, story packages were cut in half over five years, from 2007 to2012.

The report also accuses campaign reporters of acting more as megaphones than investigators, originating only about one-quarter of statements in the media about candidates in 2012, while twice as many statements came from political partisans.

Google, Facebook and other large digital players are even encroaching on an advertising space once owned by local journalism outlets: local digital advertising. More newspapers are considering adopting paywalls requiring subscriptions for unfettered access to content 450 of the nation’s 1,380 daily newspapers have some sort of plans in motion.

Local TV news audiences were down across every key timeslot across all networks. According to the study, local TV outlets lost 6.5 percent of audience, despite the popularity of the 2012 election (could all the divisive campgi nads be to blame?) while network Tv lost 1.9 percent, newspapers were down .2 percent, cable was up .8 percent and digital rose 7.2 percent.

One thing to provide perspective: median viewership for cable news channels was 1.9 million. Network news, on the other hand, attracted an average 22.1 million viewers and an average 12.6 million watched the network morning news shows each day.

In cable, CNN lost 4 percent of its prime time audience, falling to a median audience of 626,000, while Fox News Channel was flat with 1.9 million and MSNBC rose 6 percent in viewers to 818,000. Still, according ot the report, MSNBC was expected to earn $443 million, compared to $1.8 billion for Fox News Channel and $1.1 billion at CNN.

Overall, the study presents an image of an industry with serious challenges, struggling to grown revenue and maintain staffing while non-journalism focused competitors help dismantle their economic model.

“This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to cover stories, dig deep into emerging one or to question information put into its hands,” reads the report. Later, it notes “news organizations are less equipped to question what is coming to them or to uncover the stories themselves, and interest groups are better equipped and have more technological tools than ever.”

See the rest of the report by clicking here

[Last modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 9:28am]


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