Pew Study Shows Recovery, Challenges For News Media
March 15, 2011 at 4:21 AM (PT)
The PEW PROJECT FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM's annual "State of the News Media" report has been released, and the study concludes that the news media industry is showing signs of recovery but that "in the digital realm the news industry is no longer in control of its own future," with additional layers of distribution and advertising sales meaning that both revenue and aggregation of content are in the hands of "technology companies outside journalism."
The result, the report says, is "a news ecology full of experimentation and excitement, but also one that is uneven, has uncertain financial underpinning and some clear holes in coverage," and a profession devalued and "de-skilled" by "lower pay, more demands for speed, less training, and more volunteer work." Revenues rose for radio as well, with 6% growth, while the study showed HD RADIO in trouble, with only 31% of Americans having heard of it and the number of stations adding HD signals dropping sharply, according to the study.
Consumers continue to turn to online sources for their news, with online being the only category of media to show audience growth from 2009 to 2010 (17.1%). Local TV fell 1.5%, network TV is off 3.4%, newspapers dropped 5%, "audio" (including radio) is down 6%, magazines fell 8.9%, and cable TV declined 13.7%. Still, the audience for AM and FM radio remained the most stable of the traditional media, with 93% of Americans tuning in at some point in the week in 2010, only 3 percentage points down over the last decade; radio news, on the other hand, showed more decline, with 16% saying radio is their primary news source, off 6% for the year. The percentage of respondents saying they got their news on the radio "yesterday" dropped from 43% to 34% in the year, but NPR's audience has grown, up 3% in 2010 according to NPR internal data and up 58% since 2000. And the study showed 27% of Americans "very interested" in online radio in the car, up 17% from 2009.
Among trends in the industry this year are that the industry, now largely controlled by private equity firms, is increasingly bringing in executives from outside the business; some signs have arisen that the public will pay for content under the right circumstances; audience measurement has become "more confused"; local news "remains the vast untapped territory" while the hyperlocal push has proved "ill-conceived, expensive and insufficiently supported by ads"; the "new conventional wisdom" is that revenue will come from many smaller and more complex sources than before, like revenue splits from GROUPON-style couponing and "ad exchanges"; and the recovery in the automotive category helping the news media recover as well.