This week, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual “State of the News Media” report, detailing the health, or in this case the frailty, of mainstream US media online and off. The report contained a litany of grim statistics about the consumption and economics of news. Bob talks to Pew Associate Director Mark Jurkowitz, who says the situation isn’t is bleak as it could be.
The State of the News Media 2013 is the tenth edition of our annual report on the status of American journalism. The study contains special reports on how news consumers view the financial struggles of the industry and how the local, cable and network TV news landscape has changed in recent years. It also includes analysis of the main sectors of the news media and an essay on digital developments. The report is the work of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. A subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world
In 2012, a continued erosion of news reporting resources converged with growing opportunities for those in politics, government agencies, companies and others to take their messages directly to the public.
Signs of the shrinking reporting power are documented throughout this year’s report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978.
In local TV, our special content report reveals, sports, weather and traffic now account on average for 40% of the content produced on the newscasts studied while story lengths shrink. On CNN, the cable channel that has branded itself around deep reporting, produced story packages were cut nearly in half from 2007 to 2012. Across the three cable channels, coverage of live events during the day, which often require a crew and correspondent, fell 30% from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which tend to take fewer resources and can be scheduled in advance, were up 31%. Time magazine, the only major print news weekly left standing, cut roughly 5% of its staff in early 2013 as a part of broader company layoffs. And in African-American news media, the Chicago Defender has winnowed its editorial staff to just four while The Afro cut back the number of pages in its papers from 28-32 in 2008 to 16-20 in 2012.
A growing list of media outlets, such as Forbes magazine, use technology by a company called Narrative Science to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporting necessary. And some of the newer nonprofit entrants into the industry, such as the Chicago News Cooperative, have, after launching with much fanfare, shut their doors.
This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.
At the same time, newsmakers and others with information they want to put into the public arena have become more adept at using digital technology and social media to do so on their own, without any filter by the traditional media. They are also seeing more success in getting their message into the traditional media narrative. Continue reading the Overview.