Monday, March 18, 2013

New Media For Old: The State Of American Journalism

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism's newest annual report on health of American journalism shows a continued erosion of news gathering reporting resources in the traditional news media industry.

As the influence of traditional news media wains, Pew finds that those in politics, government, business and others are increasingly more adept at using digital media channels to directly broadcast information into the public arena and to inject their messaging into the traditional media's news narratives.

As traditional news outlets have continually cut news-gathering staff and cut budgets for reporters to find and investigate news leads, reports increasing follow and report on what news-makers themselves broadcast online.

The traditional news media industry is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. Findings from Pew's public opinion survey finds that nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a traditional news outlets because they no longer provide the news and information or the delivery format they want.


According to Pew, less than 10% of people under the age of 30 reported that they had read a newspaper the previous day. In comparison, nearly 50% of adults over 65 had done so. Seventy-four percent of U.S. newspaper readership is concentrated in people over the age of 45, while that age demographic group represents only 39% of the population.

As a Chicago Sun-Times columnist said, “Newspapers aren’t dying; our readers are.”  Alan Mutter gathers some statistics that point to ominous demographic trends:
  • Only 6% of people in their 20s and 16% of 40-year-olds regularly read newspapers, compared to 48% of people over 65.
  • Only 29% of the U.S. population regularly read a newspaper in 2012, down from 56% in 1991.
  • Three-quarters of the audience at the typical newspaper is 45 years of age or older. In comparison, over-45s comprise only 40% of the population.
Whites have the highest levels of daily newspaper readership, followed by African Americans.  Asian and Hispanic groups show the biggest readership declines, perhaps indicating a continuing infusion of immigrants for whom language is a barrier. Hispanics are least likely to read a newspaper, again suggesting that English language fluency is a factor. Estimates for newspaper newsroom staffing cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978, as circulation declines.

TV Broadcast and Cable News

In local TV, our special content report reveals, sports, weather and traffic now account on average for 40% of the content produced on the newscasts studied while story lengths shrink. While local TV remains a top news source for Americans, the percentage is dropping—and dropping sharply among younger generations.

In 2010, the average age of a regular evening news consumer was 53, according to Pew. Regular local TV news viewership among adults under 30 fell from 42% in 2006 to just 28% in 2012, according to Pew Research survey data

Digital News Consumption

The clearest pattern of news audience growth in 2012 came on digital platforms, and the proliferation of digital devices in peoples’ lives seemed to be a big part of the reason.

In 2012, total traffic to the top 25 news sites increased 7.2%, according to comScore. And according to Pew Research data, 39% of respondents got news online or from a mobile device “yesterday,” up from 34% in 2010, when the survey was last conducted.

Some 31% of adults owned a tablet computer as of 2013, almost four times the share recorded in May 2011. Pew Research also found that web-enabled smartphones are even more widespread: As of December 2012, about 45% of adults owned a smartphone, up from 35% in May 2011.

Accessing news is one of the most popular uses for the devices, enabling Americans to get news whenever they want and wherever they might be. An August 2012 Pew Research study found that fully 64% of tablet owners say they get news on their devices weekly; 37% reported they do so daily. The trend is nearly identical for smartphone owners – 62% said they consume news on their device weekly, and 36% do so daily.

When it comes to news people hear from friends and family, social media are playing a growing role, especially among young people, according to a Pew Research survey released in this year’s report, though it is still far from replacing traditional word of mouth. Nearly three-quarters, 72%, say the most common way they hear about news events from family and friends is by talking in person or over the phone. But 15% get most news from family and friends through social media sites. And it rises to nearly a quarter among 18-to-25-year-olds. Seven percent do so via e-mail. Either way, the vast majority say they then seek out news stories to learn more.

African American Digital Audience

Social media in particular may offer new opportunities for African American news media, the ethnic media sector studied as a part of this year’s report. While African Americans still access the internet at lower rates than the white population (70% of African Americans say they use the internet, compared to 81% of non-Hispanic whites), those on the internet are more likely than whites and the population over all to use social networks, according to 2012 surveys from the Pew Research Center.

A 2012 Pew Research Center study on the use of mobile devices, found non-Hispanic black tablet owners are more likely to use their tablets to get news than are other ethnic groups. Over half, or 56%, of tablet-owning non-Hispanic blacks get news daily from their tablets, compared to 37% of Hispanics and 36% of non-Hispanic whites.

Latino Digital Audience

Just as with other technologies, use of social media varies across subgroups of Latino internet users. Latinos ages 18 to 29 are most likely to say they use social media sites — 84% say they do. By contrast, those ages 65 and older are the least likely to use social media sites — just 27% say they do this.

Other differences across demographic subgroups are present. Native-born Hispanics are more likely than foreign-born Hispanics to use social networking sites — 73% versus 63%. English-dominant Hispanics are more likely than bilingual Hispanics or Spanish-dominant Hispanics to use social media sites—76% versus 67% and 61% respectively.
Paid circulation of daily newspapers in the U.S. from 1985 to 2011
Number of daily newspapers in the U.S. from 1985 to 2011
You will find more statistics at Statista

Newspaper Death Watch

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