Pew 'State Of The News Media': Cutbacks Are Affecting Coverage, Consumption
March 19, 2013 at 4:26 AM (PT)
The annual PEW RESEARCH CENTER "State of the News Media" report for 2013 looks at a news industry it calls "more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands."
PEW identified six major trends this year, including that cutbacks in newsrooms are affecting coverage and that people are noticing it; the news industry is missing out on most of the new digital advertising; sponsorship ad sales like promoted tweets and sponsored posts are growing; pay walls are growing; local TV is now increasingly vulnerable, especially for younger generations; and hearing about news from friends and family leads to deeper news consumption.
For radio and other audio sources, PEW said that "listening to content seems to be as popular as ever and accessible in more formats than ever. But the data suggest that in the broader array of audio platforms news is becoming a smaller piece of the pie."
A previous PEW study said that "one-third of Americans said they listened to news radio 'yesterday,' down from more than half of the population in 1990. Drive-time—once the premier domain of terrestrial radio—is becoming overtaken by mobile devices." PEW also noted that ARBITRON has measured almost a tripling in three years of people streaming audio from their cell phones in cars and that public radio appears to be trending from listening via AM and FM to mobile delivery through apps.
Financially, radio and other audio were "above water" in 2012 due to political advertising, but PEW said that "this heavy reliance on election spending does not bode well for its overall financial health," citing the "deceiving" 1% gain shown by the RAB resulting from political ads offsetting other declines.
The survey found that "a significant percentage" of the American public -- 31% -- has "not only... noticed a difference in the quantity or quality of news (due to cutbacks at news outlets), but have stopped reading, watching or listening to a news source because of it." Those who did walk away from a news source are described as "better educated, wealthier and older" than those who stayed. Few were aware of the financial difficulties in the industry that prompted the cutbacks, although those who knew were more likely to leave a news outlet.
PEW also found that most people -- 72% of adults -- say they most commonly hear about news events from friends and family by word of mouth, with 15% saying they get it through social media sites.