Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Pew Survey: Online Journalists See Glass Half-Full As 2009 Expected Worst Ever In News Media

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 31, 2009

The first survey of nearly 300 online journalists by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found "uneasy optimism" compared with colleagues in traditional media and concern that the Internet "is changing the fundamental values of journalism."

They were also more likely to express confidence that a profitable online business model would be found. Most reported staff increases in their organizations.

The survey results form part of the recently released Pew Project's 6th annual survey of the US news media, a depressing read. More than 180,000 words of it on 700 pages.

I pulled out a few extracts:

- Newspaper ad revenues have fallen 23% in the last two years.

- Growing by a third annually just two years ago, online ad revenue to news websites now appears to be flattening; in newspapers it is declining.

-Some papers are in bankruptcy, and others have lost three-quarters of their value.

-By our calculations, nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone, and 2009 may be the worst year yet.

- In local television, news staffs, already too small to adequately cover their communities, are being cut at unprecedented rates; revenues fell by 7% in an election year—something unheard of—and ratings are now falling or are flat across the schedule. In network news, even the rare programs increasing their ratings are seeing revenues fall.

- Perhaps least noticed yet most important, the audience migration to the Internet is now accelerating. The number of Americans who regularly go online for news, by one survey, jumped 19% in the last two years; in 2008 alone traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27%.

- Yet it is now all but settled that advertising revenue—the model that financed journalism for the last century—will be inadequate to do so in this one.

- In trying to reinvent the business, 2008 may have been a lost year, and 2009 threatens to be the same. Imagine someone about to begin physical therapy following a stroke, suddenly contracting a debilitating secondary illness.

- The problem facing American journalism is not fundamentally an audience problem or a credibility problem. It is a revenue problem—the decoupling, as we have described it before, of advertising from news.

Several interesting special reports:

-There is one on citizen-based media, including a university study of 363 citizen websites in 46 markets.

-There is an essay by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel on the Lessons of the Election.

-There is a backgrounder on the growing models of entrepreneurial journalism, new Web news organizations run by professional journalists outside the mainstream press.

-There is a review of changes in the last year in public attitudes.

Here are the direct links to the different sections of The State of the News Media 2009:


Overview

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Major Trends
Key Findings
Public Attitudes

Author's Note

Executive Summary

En Español

Special Reports

Citizen Based Media
Lessons of the Election
New Ventures

Online Journalist Survey

Intro
Commentary
Findings
Topline

Newspapers

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Content Analysis
Audience

Economics
News Investment
Ownership
Alternative Weeklies

Online

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Content Analysis
Audience

Economics
News Investment
Ownership
Citizen Media

Network TV

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Content Analysis
Audience
Economics
News Investment
Ownership
Digital Trends
News Magazines

PBS

Cable TV

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Content Analysis
Audience
Economics
News Investment
Ownership
Digital Trends Trends
Alternative Channels

Local TV

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Audience
Economics
News Investment
Ownership
Digital Trends

Magazines

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Content Analysis
Audience
Economics
News Investment
Ownership
Digital Trends
Opinion Titles

Audio

Full chapter (html)
Intro
Content Analysis
Audience
Economics
News Investment
Ownership
Talk Radio

Ethnic

Full chapter (html)
Content Analysis

Hispanic
African American
The Obama Factor
Asian American
Native and Arab American


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