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The State of the News Media 2013

March 18, 2013 Comments off

The State of the News Media 2013
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism

In 2012, a continued erosion of news reporting resources converged with growing opportunities for those in politics, government agencies, companies and others to take their messages directly to the public.

Signs of the shrinking reporting power are documented throughout this year’s report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom 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. In local TV, our special content report reveals, sports, weather and traffic now account for 40% of the content produced on an average newscast while story lengths shrink. On CNN, the cable channel that has branded itself around deep reporting, produced story packages were cut nearly in half from 2007 to 2012. Across the three cable channels, coverage of live events during the day, which often require a crew and correspondent, fell 30% from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which tend to take fewer resources and can be scheduled in advance, were up 31%. Time magazine, the only major print news weekly left standing, cut roughly 5% of its staff in early 2013 as a part of broader company layoffs. And in African-American news media, the Chicago Defender has winnowed its editorial staff to just four while The Afro cut back the number of pages in its papers from 28-32 in 2008 to 16-20 in 2012. A growing list of media outlets, such as Forbes magazine, use technology by a company called Narrative Science to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporting necessary. And some of the newer nonprofit entrants into the industry, such as the Chicago News Cooperative, have, after launching with much fanfare, shut their doors.

This adds up 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. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.

At the same time, newsmakers and others with information they want to put into the public arena have become more adept at using digital technology and social media to do so on their own, without any filter by the traditional media. They are also seeing more success in getting their message into the traditional media narrative.

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Internet Gains Most as Campaign News Source but Cable TV Still Leads

November 28, 2012 Comments off

Internet Gains Most as Campaign News Source but Cable TV Still Leads

Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism

With the election less than two weeks away, Americans are following the presidential campaign more closely on nearly every news platform than they were earlier in the year, including print newspapers. The biggest gains have come on the internet-both to the websites of traditional news sources and those native to the web.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are growing especially rapidly as a source of political news. The number of Americans who say they regularly go to these destinations to learn about the campaign has doubled since January. Even with that jump, however, these leading social media platforms are still turned to by a relatively limited number of Americans, about 17% in all, when those who mentioned at least one of those platforms are combined.

YouTube & News: A New Kind of Visual News

July 17, 2012 Comments off

YouTube & News: A New Kind of Visual News
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism (Pew Research Center)

What is the nature of news on YouTube? What types of events “go viral” and attract the most viewers? How does this agenda differ from that of the traditional news media? Do the most popular videos on YouTube tend to be videos produced by professional news organizations, by citizens or by political interest groups or governments? How long does people’s attention seem to last?

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism examined 15 months’ worth of the most popular news videos on the site (January 2011 to March 2012) — some 260 different videos in all-by identifying and tracking the five most-viewed videos each week located in the “news & politics” channel of YouTube, analyzing the nature of the video, the topics that were viewed most often, who produced them and who posted them.

The data reveal that a complex, symbiotic relationship has developed between citizens and news organizations on YouTube, a relationship that comes close to the continuous journalistic “dialogue” many observers predicted would become the new journalism online. Citizens are creating their own videos about news and posting them. They are also actively sharing news videos produced by journalism professionals. And news organizations are taking advantage of citizen content and incorporating it into their journalism. Consumers, in turn, seem to be embracing the interplay in what they watch and share, creating a new kind of television news.

At the same time, clear ethical standards have not developed on how to attribute the video content moving through the synergistic sharing loop. Even though YouTube offers guidelines on how to attribute content, it’s clear that not everyone follows them, and certain scenarios fall outside those covered by the guidelines. News organizations sometimes post content that was apparently captured by citizen eyewitnesses without any clear attribution as to the original producer. Citizens are posting copyrighted material without permission. And the creator of some material cannot be identified. All this creates the potential for news to be manufactured, or even falsified, without giving audiences much ability to know who produced it or how to verify it.

How the Media Covered the 2012 Primary Campaign: Frames of Campaign Coverage

April 23, 2012 Comments off

How the Media Covered the 2012 Primary Campaign: Frames of Campaign Coverage
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism

Mitt Romney needed 15 weeks once the primary contests began to gain a secure hold over his party’s nomination for president. But he emerged as the conclusive winner in the media narrative about the race six weeks earlier, following a narrow win in his native state, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that examines in detail the media’s coverage of the race.

After Romney’s tight victory in the Michigan primary on Feb. 28, news coverage about his candidacy became measurably more favorable and the portrayal of his rivals—particularly Rick Santorum—began to become more negative and to shrink in volume.

One main component of that shift in the narrative is that after Michigan, the news media began to view Romney’s nomination as essentially inevitable. Indeed, a close look at the coverage finds that references to delegate math and the concept of electoral inevitability spiked in the media the week after Michigan, rising twelve fold, for instance, on television news programs. From that point on, the amount of attention in the press to Romney’s candidacy began to overwhelm that of his rivals, and the tone of coverage about him, which had been often mixed or negative before, became solidly positive.

A look inside the coverage also reveals that Romney endured more media "vetting" of his record and personal character than the other Republican contenders. Since November, just over 12% of the coverage in which Romney was a significant figure was devoted to those subjects. The press focused in particular on his wealth and his experience at the private equity investment firm Bain Capital.

A similar percentage of the coverage of Newt Gingrich also involved vetting his record and personal life (just under 12%), but he received only about half as much campaign coverage generally as Romney.

One quadrennial question about press coverage of campaigns is what subject matter will help voters decide among the candidates. Critics and journalists have long debated whether there is too much focus on strategic and tactical matters in the press. Such coverage explains what is occurring in the race but people disagree over whether it illuminates how a candidate would behave if elected.

The State of the News Media 2012

March 19, 2012 Comments off

The State of the News Media 2012Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism (Pew Research Center)

In 2011, the digital revolution entered a new era.

The age of mobile, in which people are connected to the web wherever they are, arrived in earnest. More than four in ten American adults now own a smartphone. One in five owns a tablet. New cars are manufactured with internet built in. With more mobility comes deeper immersion into social networking.

For news, the new era brings mixed blessings.

New research released in this report finds that mobile devices are adding to people’s news consumption, strengthening the lure of traditional news brands and providing a boost to long-form journalism. Eight in ten who get news on smartphones or tablets, for instance, get news on conventional computers as well. People are taking advantage, in other words, of having easier access to news throughout the day – in their pocket, on their desks and in their laps.

At the same time, a more fundamental challenge that we identified in this report last year has intensified — the extent to which technology intermediaries now control the future of news.

Two trends in the last year overlap and reinforce the sense that the gap between the news and technology industries is widening. First, the explosion of new mobile platforms and social media channels represents another layer of technology with which news organizations must keep pace.

Second, in the last year a small number of technology giants began rapidly moving to consolidate their power by becoming makers of “everything” in our digital lives. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and a few others are maneuvering to make the hardware people use, the operating systems that run those devices, the browsers on which people navigate, the e-mail services on which they communicate, the social networks on which they share and the web platforms on which they shop and play. And all of this will provide these companies with detailed personal data about each consumer.

The Search for a New Business Model: How Newspapers Are Faring Trying to Build Digital Revenue

March 8, 2012 Comments off

The Search for a New Business Model: How Newspapers Are Faring Trying to Build Digital Revenue
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism

A new study, which combines detailed proprietary data from individual newspapers with in-depth interviews at more than a dozen major media companies, finds that the search for a new revenue model to revive the newspaper industry is making only halting progress but that some individual newspapers are faring much better than the industry overall and may provide signs of a path forward.

In general, the shift to replace losses in print ad revenue with new digital revenue is taking longer and proving more difficult than executives want and at the current rate most newspapers continue to contract with alarming speed, according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Cultural inertia is a major factor. Most papers are not putting significant effort into the new digital revenue categories that, while small now, are expected to provide most the growth in the future. To different degrees, executives predict newsrooms will continue to shrink, more papers will close and many surviving papers will deliver a print edition only a few days a week.

But some papers are performing quite differently than the norm, some much better and some far worse. These variances suggest that the future of newspapers, rather than being determined entirely by sweeping trends, can be significantly affected by company culture and management-even at papers of quite different sizes.

How People Learn About Their Local Community

September 26, 2011 Comments off

How People Learn About Their Local Community
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism (Pew Research Center)

Contrary to much of the conventional understanding of how people learn about their communities, Americans turn to a wide range of platforms to get local news and information, and where they turn varies considerably depending on the subject matter and their age, according to a survey by the Pew

Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that asks about local information in a new way. Most Americans, including more tech-savvy adults under age 40, also use a blend of both new and traditional sources to get t heir information.

Overall, the picture revealed by the data is that of a richer and more nuanced ecosystem of community news and information than researchers have previously identified.

The survey echoes longstanding research that more Americans report watching local TV news than any other source—which has led to widely held idea that people go there for most of their community news and information. But it also finds that Americans tend to rely on the medium for just a few topics—mainly weather, breaking news, and to a lesser degree, traffic. These are the most widely followed local subjects. Yet consumers rely on other sources for most other local topics. Younger adults, moreover, rely on local television less, a fact that suggests more vulnerability for the medium in the future.

The survey also yields some striking findings for newspapers. Most Americans (69%) say that if their local newspaper no longer existed, it would not have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community.

Yet the data show that newspapers play a much bigger role in people’s lives than many may realize. Newspapers (both the print and online versions, though primarily print) rank first or tie for first as the source people rely on most for 11 of the 16 different kinds of local information asked about—more topics than any other media source. But most of these topics—many of which relate to civic affairs such as government—taxes, etc., are ones followed by fewer Americans on a regular basis.

In other words, local TV draws a mass audience largely around a few popular subjects; local newspapers attract a smaller cohort of citizens but for a wider range of civically oriented subjects.

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