The effects of a decade of newsroom cutbacks are real and
the public is taking notice. In 2012, a continued erosion
of news reporting resources in the US converged with growing
opportunities for those in politics, government agencies,
companies and others to take their messages directly to the
public. On a more positive note, the rise of digital paid
content could also have a positive impact on the quality of
journalism as news organisations strive to produce unique
and high-quality content that the public believes is worth
of the shrinking reporting power are documented in the latest
Pew Research report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks
in 2012 put the industry down 30 per cent since its peak in
2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for
the first time since 1978. In local TV sports, weather and
traffic now account for 40 per cent of the content produced
on an average newscast 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
the three cable channels, coverage of live events during the
day, which often require a crew and correspondent, fell 30
per cent from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which
tend to take fewer resources and can be scheduled in advance,
were up 31 per cent. Time magazine, the only major print news
weekly left standing, cut roughly five per cent of its staff
in early 2013 as a part of broader company layoffs.
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.
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 Pews
new public opinion survey reveal that the public is taking
notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31 per cent)
have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides
the news and information they had grown accustomed to.
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.
is the 10th edition of the State of the News Media produced
by the Pew Research Centers Project for Excellence in
Journalism. There are six trends of the year:
effects of a decade of newsroom cutbacks are real and
the public is taking notice. Nearly a third of US adults,
31 per cent, have stopped turning to a news outlet because
it no longer provided them with the news they were accustomed
to getting. Men have left at somewhat higher rates than women,
as have the more highly educated and higher-income earnersmany
of those, in other words, that past Pew Research data have
shown to be among the heavier news consumers. With reporting
resources cut to the bone and fewer specialised beats, journalists
level of expertise in any one area and the ability to go deep
into a story are compromised.
when people who had heard something about the financial struggles
were asked which effect they noticed more, stories that were
less complete or fewer stories over all, 48 per cent named
less complete stories while 31 per cent mostly noticed fewer
stories. Overall, awareness of the industrys financial
struggles is limited. Only 39 per cent have heard a lot or
some. But those with greater awareness are also more likely
to be the ones who have abandoned a news outlet.
news industry continues to lose out on the bulk of new digital
advertising. Two new areas of digital advertising that seemed
to bring promise even a year ago now appear to be moving outside
the reach of news: mobile devices and local digital advertising.
Over all, mobile advertising grew 80% in 2012 to $2.6 billion.
Of that, however, only one ad segment is available to news:
display. While mobile display is growing rapidly, 72 per cent
of that market goes to just six companiesincluding Facebook,
which didnt even create its first mobile ad product
until mid-2012. Local digital advertising, a critical ad segment
for news as the majority of outlets cater to a local audience,
is also growing22 per cent sin 2012.
improved geo-targeting is allowing many national advertisers
to turn to Google, Facebook and other large networks to buy
ads that once might have gone to local media. In addition,
Google and Facebook are also improving their ability to sell
ad space to smaller, truly local, advertisers, again taking
business that once went to local media. It is hard to see
how news organisations will secure anything like their traditional
share. Google is now the ad leader in search, display and
mobile. Once again, in key revenue areas, it appears the news
industry may have been outflanked by technology giants.
long-dormant sponsorship ad category is seeing sharp growth.
This is one area of growing digital ad revenue where news
organisations have taken early steps to move in. Promoted
tweets on Twitter account for some of the growth, along with
the rise of native adsthe digital term for advertorials
containing advertiser-produced storieswhich often run
alongside a sites own editorial content.
it remains small in dollars, the categorys growth rate
is second only to that of video. Sponsorship ads rose by 38.9
per cent, to $1.56 billion; that followed a jump of 56.1 per
cent in 2011. Traditional publications such as The Atlantic
and Forbes, as well as digital publications BuzzFeed and Gawker,
have relied on native ads to quickly build digital ad revenues,
and their use is expected to spread.
to tech website PandoDaily, major publishers including Hearst,
Time and Condé Nast are investing in formats to run
native ads, as are many newspapers. The development, however,
runs the risk of confusing readers about the difference between
advertising and news content.
growth of paid digital content experiments may have a significant
impact on both news revenue and content. After years of an
almost theological debate about whether digital content should
be free, the newspaper industry may have reached a tipping
point in 2012. Indeed, 450 of the US 1,380 dailies have
started or announced plans for some kind of paid content subscription
or pay wall plan, in many cases opting for the metered model
that allows a certain number of free visits before requiring
users to pay.
trend has also spread beyond newspapers, as highlighted by
popular blogger Andrew Sullivans recent decision to
attach a fee to his site, The Dish. With digital ad revenue
growing at an anemic three per cent a year in the newspaper
industry, digital subscriptions are seen as an increasingly
vital component of any new business model for journalismthough,
in most cases, they fall far short of actually replacing the
revenue lost in advertising.
in good part to its two-year-old digital subscription programme,
The New York Times reports that its circulation revenue now
exceeds its advertising revenue, a sea change from the traditional
revenue split of as much as 80 per cent ad dollars to 20 per
cent circulation dollars. Going forward, many news executives
believe that a new business model will emerge in which the
mix between advertising and circulation revenue will be close
to equal, most likely with a third leg of new revenues that
are not tied directly to the news product.
rise of digital paid content could also have a positive impact
on the quality of journalism as news organisations strive
to produce unique and high-quality content that the public
believes is worth paying for.
the first and hardest-hit industry, newspapers, remains in
the spotlight, local TV finds itself newly vulnerable: Local
TV audiences were down across every key time slot and across
all networks in 2012. And the off-peak news hours like 4:30
a.m. that stations had been adding for years seem to have
hit their audience ceiling. While local TV remains a top news
source for Americans, the percentage is droppingand
dropping sharply among younger generations.
local TV viewership among adults under 30 fell from 42 per
cent in 2006 to just 28 per cent in 2012, according to Pew
Research survey data. Whats more, the topics people
go there for mostweather and breaking news (and to a
lesser extent traffic)are ripe for replacement by any
number of Web- and mobile-based outlets. While many stations
ramped up their digital news offerings in the past year, they
are late to the digital game.
revenues were up for the year, but that was largely due to
a windfall of $2.9 billion in political ad revenue, something
that cannot be replicated in non-election years. Over all,
average revenue for news-producing stations declined by more
than a third (36 per cent) from 2006 to 2011.
about things in the news from friends and family, whether
via social media or actual word of mouth, leads to deeper
news consumption: A majority of Americans seek out a full
news story after hearing about an event or issue from friends
and family, a new Pew Research survey released here finds.
For nearly three-quarters of adults (72 per cent), the most
common way to get news from friends and family is by having
someone talk to themeither in person or over the phone.
And among that group, close to two-thirds (63%) somewhat or
very often seek out a news story about that event or issue.
Social networking is now a part of this process as well: 15
per cent of US adults get most of their news from friends
and family this way, and the vast majority of them (77 per
cent) follow links to full news stories.
18-to-29 year-olds, the percentage that primarily relies on
social media for this kind of news already reaches nearly
one-quarter. And the growing practice of dual-screening major
news events adds more opportunity to share news electronically.
Friends and family are still just one part of most consumers
news diets and a smaller part than going directly to
news outlet themselves, as an earlier Pew Research study revealed.