State Of The News Media: Everything In Decline But Digital
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s has served up its annual and comprehensive “State of the News Media” report. It offers a mostly pessimistic assessment of the condition and trajectory of various news media in the US today.
In perhaps its most striking finding, the report shows how declining revenues leading to repeated cost-cutting have hurt readership and audience loyalty. Based on survey data, the State of the News Media argues that slipping quality and diminished coverage have alienated large numbers of people who’ve abandoned news publications or outlets:
[A] significant percentage of them not only have noticed a difference in the quantity or quality of news, but have stopped reading, watching or listening to a news source because of it. Nearly one-third—31%—of people say they have deserted a particular news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to, according to the survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults in early 2013.
The chart above applies to news media across the board, not just newspapers. TV news, radio and magazines have seen their audiences decline as well. Last year, Newsweek published its last print edition. Time may well follow in the relatively near future.
Some 450 of the 1,380 daily newspapers in the US are using or considering pay-walls for their online editions. This is a direct response to the decline of print ad revenues and the inability of digital advertising to compensate for those losses. That’s another theme in the report. However, in a more upbeat finding, Pew also says that newspaper circulation appears to have stabilized.
The report also goes into the ways in which smartphones and tablets are changing news consumption, often as a companion or “second” screen. Mobile access to news has also caused many people to consume more news from more sources. This is another positive finding for the industry.
Overall, digital news channels are growing (vs. traditional media). Digital has surpassed radio and print in terms of audience size and engagement frequency. Digital will soon overtake TV as the primary news platform.
In particular social media figure more prominently as a news “channel” than even a couple of years ago. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, 19 percent of Americans received news or headlines on a social network “yesterday.” The number was almost double (34 percent) for people in the 18 – 24 age category.
Thus the concept of Facebook’s news feed as a “personalized newspaper” may not be as weird or far-fetched as it sounded to some people when that analogy was first used a few weeks ago. The graphic below doesn’t break out traffic or news audience by site, but Twitter and Facebook are likely the top two sources.
The report republishes a great deal of third party statistics and data, including ad-revenue forecasts for different market sectors.
Below is a list of news sites that see the highest levels of social-media engagement according to NewsWhip. The Huffington Post is number one. Top overall online news destination Yahoo.com is number three.
There’s an enormous amount of data and analysis in the report. As mentioned it extensively covers newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, ethnic and alternative media — as well as digital and online.