It has been quite a week. The Project for Excellence in Journalism published its annual State of the News Media report, an awesome source of information for news junkies and anyone concerned about the fourth estate. This year it finds that news reporting continues to erode, under pressure as newsrooms are gutted to balance budgets. Newspapers have shrunk their news operations enormously over the past few years, with newsrooms losing 30 percent of their reporters since 2000 (and most of those losses since 2005). Newspapers are increasingly turning to metered access to generate revenue, something the Washington Post announced it would do this week. About a third of daily papers have adopted or plan to soon adopt paywalls similar to that of the New York Times. Television news is being hit hard, with local news channels focusing more on traffic, weather and sports and less on news (and crime taking up a large portion of what passes for news). CNN has halved its in-depth news production since 2007. “This adds up," the report concludes, "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.” A survey of readers finds that citizens are abandoning news outlets because they no longer provide substantial reporting. One eloquent chart shows a steep decline in overall advertising dollars, and indicates how tiny the revenue from digital advertising is compared to print. Google, Twitter, and Pandora (!) scoop up most of the digital advertising dollar. In cable news, Fox claims the largest audience by far. It’s a fascinating report, well worth browsing.
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