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Friday, March 7, 2014

The State of the News Media

Is Journalism Dieing? Or is a key element of our democracy on life support but still kicking.

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.

Questions about the Media. Part I

·       Identify five to ten forms of media (note that many fall under other   
        larger categories).

·       How are they used differently? What are the differences?

·       Which has the greatest impact on you?

·       Which has the greatest impact on society?

·       What are the shortcomings of each type of media?

·       What advantages do traditional media have over emerging media 
         and vice versa?

·       When does an emerging media become traditional?

·       What new media might the be in the future?

·       If you are a reporter with access to all forms of media distribution,
which do you choose first to tell a story?

·       Why? How? Target market?

·       Explain how you might have answered this question differently 
        20 years ago.

·       How might you have responded five or ten years ago?

·       How fast are media consumption habits changing?

·       How much of new media is simply a form or flexibility for older media?

·       What is media literacy? 

        Is it important to be media literate? 

        How does one become media literate?

·       Who are the gatekeepers

         Is there a way to circumvent the gatekeepers?

        Do you feel the gatekeeper is still or has ever been necessary in media?

·       What areas of media are you most interested in?

George Lucas on Teaching Visual Literacy and Communications

0:09>>The issue we're discussing here in terms of multimedia literacy is
0:14that we stress so hard learning English and learning English grammar
0:20and then we shove music and art
0:25and most schools don't even get into cinema.
0:30We move those over into some sort of artistic which means sort
0:34of therapeutic or fun thing.
0:37It's not approached as a very valid form of communication.
0:41Kids know this.
0:43When you take a five year old, they can speak, they can use words,
0:49they don't know how to write very well
0:50and they may not know much grammar, but they know how to speak,
0:54they also know music, they may not know the grammar of music,
0:58they know cinema because they spend a huge amount of time in front
1:01of the television so they know visual communication,
1:03they know the moving image.
1:05They intuitively know a lot of the rules,
1:08but nobody's actually taught them anything,
1:09anymore than they've taught them anything about grammar in English.
1:12So we go through school and then later on we start
1:15to learn the grammar of English, you have punctuation, capital letters,
1:20you'll run on sentences, what a verb is.
1:23But nobody teaches anybody about what screen direction is,
1:28what perspective is, what color is, what a diagonal line means.
1:34Those are rules; those are grammatical rules
1:37that appear in an art class.
1:39If you've taken art class, the first thing you'll do is get into graphics
1:42and you start learning well a jagged line means this
1:45and a blue color means this or red color means that.
1:48So if you're trying to convince somebody that what you want
1:51to do is excite them, then you use red or yellow.
1:55If you're doing it with music then you use a fast rhythm,
1:59not a slow rhythm.
2:01You don't have to teach them necessarily how to read music
2:04and you don't need to have to teach them how to be an artist,
2:08but you do have to teach them how to use the grammar of the language.
2:11Somehow we've gotten to the point where the words have gotten way
2:16up here and these other forms of communications, which all started
2:18out equal and at the beginning, much more equal before we had words.
2:23Somehow in the educational system they'll need to be balanced out.
2:28So the kids could communicate using all of the forms of communication,
2:32not just put it into little categories and say you really need
2:38to learn how to use a verb; that's much more important
2:41than learning perspective or learning screen direction.
2:46But it's not really, especially in this day and age where the power
2:52of multimedia is coming to the children.
2:55It used to be like with cinema,
2:59only the very elite professionals worked in this medium.
3:04But now anybody can work in it.
3:07>>Are we talking about a new way of teaching?
3:09>>It is a different way of teaching
3:11in that I think English classes should broaden themselves
3:15and my personal thing I think we should rename English
3:20to be-- I mean I know in some schools we call it language arts,
3:23but I think it should be renamed communication.
3:25It's a communication class and you learn the English language,
3:29learn how to write, you learn grammar, but you also learn graphics.
3:33If you take graphics out of the art department, take cinema and put it
3:36into the schools, take music out of the music department.
3:39If you want to learn how to play an instrument, if you want to learn how
3:42to be a composer, then you can go to the music department.
3:46If you want to learn how to do beautiful renditions of paintings
3:50and follow the great artists then you go into art class.
3:54But if you really want to just learn how to communicate,
3:56then what is the basic grammar of communication then
4:00that should be taught basically in the communications class,
4:02it shouldn't be taught in some esoteric arty thing,
4:05it should be taught as a very practical tool that you use to sell
4:10and influence people and to get your point across
4:15and to communicate to other people.

Guidelines for the "New" Journalism

Voice of San Diego: New Reporter Guidelines.
(Voice of San Diego is an on-line citizens/non-professional journalism project).

We only do something if we can do it better than anyone or if no one else is doing it.
* We must add value. We must be unique.
Three things to remember for each story: 
* Context
* Authority
* Not just what is happening, but what it means
There is no such thing as objectivity.
* There is such thing as fairness.
* But everyone sees everything through their own filter. Acknowledge that, let it liberate you. Let it regulate you.
* We are not guided by political identification, by ideology or dogma. But every decision we make, from what to cover to how to cover it, is made through our own subjective judgments.
* We are guided by an ability to be transparent and independent, to clearly assess what’s going on in our community and have the courage to plainly state the truth.

Click on "read more" to continue.

Consumer based education - the errosion of society

Is choosing a school like choosing a brand of television, clothing or food?

Should the consumer decide what it worth learning, what they need to know and how they wish to learn it?

I recently watched a television program where a group of young vampires were out to take over and run the world. The older vampire tried to tell them they were not ready, that they did not have the experience, patience and eduction to be the leaders and custodians of society. Of course they laughed him off, since at their age they felt ready and qualified for anything.

Should the buyer determine the inventory? What is taught? How much to pay?

To continue, click on "read more" below...

How to Gatekeep in Agenda-Setting Theory

From e-how Money (click here)

How to Gatekeep in Agenda-Setting Theory thumbnail
Gatekeepers control the flow and feel of information in order to promote an agenda.
Among communication theorists, the term "gatekeeper" describes someone who performs strategic filtering actions that limit or refine people's access to information or education. Sometimes this is a good thing, and a public service. For example, TV programmers act as gatekeepers, striving to bring content to the small screen that viewers will find entertaining or informative, but that will stop short of tedious or offensive material. In order to perform effectively, a gatekeeper must be in a position to control key aspects of mass communication.


  1. Preparing to Manage Information Flow

    • 1
      Prioritize important elements of the message. The objective is to set an agenda: corporate, political or social. So you must specifically and clearly designate which items of information are to receive focus, and which are to be subordinated.
    • 2
      Limit and simplify the flow of information to the target audience. Extensive research has shown that most people can entertain no more three abstractideas at a time, and still be able to recall and integrate the new information with other knowledge. Gatekeepers must limit information flow to carefully focused, mutually reinforcing storylines, or the audience will become overwhelmed and confused.
    • 3
      Manage the timing. The gatekeeper must ensure there is a steady, substantial flow of information, in order to retain people's interest, and build momentum for the agenda the gatekeeper is trying to set.

    Evaluating the Outcomes of Agenda Setting

    • 4
      Evaluate outcomes of your gatekeeper strategy continuously. Gauge yoursuccess and adjust message delivery and content, in order to sustain your agenda-setting objectives over time. Remember, there is always more than one gatekeeper trying to set the agenda.
    • 5
      Use short-game evaluation tools and techniques to get immediate feedback. Polling, focus groups and social media are all effective barometers of consumer perceptions.
    • 6
      Exercise reputation-monitoring tools rigorously. Agenda setting is an adversarial sport, and negative social media buzz can rapidly derail your efforts. Maintain awareness about what is being said online about you, your message and your brand.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cloud-based polling utilities like SurveyMonkey can help track deep trends in agenda adoption or rejection.
  • Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and YouTube can effectively amplify a message stream aimed at agenda setting.
  • Increasingly, people are sophisticated about the sources from which they credulously accept information. Heavy-handed gatekeeping can create backlashes that damage brand identity and alienate audiences.

Read more: How to Gatekeep in Agenda-Setting Theory |


Agenda Setting and Gatekeeping


One of the key concepts in mass communication is this notion of agenda setting, which, simply defined, is that the media tells you not what to think but what to think about.  And so if they decide that the big story is going to be the environment, and there's a big environment rally, and they cover it, that's typically going to be on the agenda.  Sometimes this can get silly.  When the movie Jaws was very popular in the mid-1970s, there were lots of stories on the agenda about sharks.  And they were appearing in landlocked, midwestern newspapers.  Everybody was
Harvey Nagler - Vice President, CBS News, Radio
In Murrow's time, back in the fifties, there were three major media companies and there were a number of elite newspapers, and those, the people who worked at those companies basically set the agenda for the American public. They set the agenda for what was going to be discussed in the newspapers, and what was going to be discussed and viewed on the television and radio stations. Today, everybody is a gatekeeper, everybody now decides what the agenda of the American public is going to be. No longer is it just the few media companies or the newspapers that do that, so it's a very different world with all sorts of information out there.
Mickey Huff - Project Censored
That's not a real critique, that's a deflection away from the responsibility that major media entities have in a democratic society. It's a complete deflection saying that like, well, now there are so many diverse views, CBS doesn't have to worry about it anymore. How many videos are on YouTube? How many Google videos are there, how many, versus how many people get onto 60 Minutes? That's a pretty directed program, it's got a guaranteed viewership. They set the agenda. It's not just anybody equally sets the agenda. Yeah, I set the agenda in my bedroom with my Mac cam or whatever I've got and I throw myself up on the Internet and three people watch it. How is that at all the same?
Amy Goodman - Host, Democracy Now!
The media ends up being in this country a mouthpiece for those in power, when the power of the media should be exactly the opposite: bringing to the fore the voices of those who are not usually heard, which is the majority of people in this country and around the world.
Jamal Dajani - Producer, Link TV
We go on reporting the Anna Nicole Smith story for six months when everyday we have a couple of hundred people dying in Iraq, Afghanistan and there is a conflict going on between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Mickey Huff
The Iraq War vets come home to testify the Winter Soldier story, complete blackout in the corporate media. Wasn't covered by any in the corporate press at all, where veterans from the Iraqi war came back to Congress and testified about what was going on there. You'd think that Wolf Blitzer would take time away from Anna Nicole Smith and find out about that.
Robin Sloan - Vice President of Strategy, Current TV
It has been true that generally the top five broadcast networks, the Associated Press, the New York Times, collectively, are the ones that set the news agenda. They, in deciding what goes on the front page or what goes across the AP wire, generally decide what it is that's important today, what it is that we're talking about. I think with the Internet and just the rise of many, many more voices, we've actually seen an erosion of that sort of centralized agenda-setting power, and I think that's probably a good thing. One of the things that Current tries to do very consciously is bring stories that people aren't talking about back into the conversation, and we do it not by sitting in some editor's conference room and just deciding what we think people should be talking about today, we do it by listening to our audience. And I actually think that's the direction that things are going. I think there is always going to be a role for a smart editor to tell you what you should be paying attention to today, but more and more that judgment is going to come from lots of people looking at lots of things and then kind of collectively deciding, this is what's important, this is what we should be talking about.

Click here for access to the video

  • Description:In this video, experts discuss how the media exerts influence over what's considered important in public discourse.

  • Featured Writer(s):
    Sloan, Robin
    Nagler, Harvey
    Huff, Mickey
    Goodman, Amy
    Dajani, Jamal
    Campbell, Richard