We are not dead yet: Pew’s State of the News Media

To continue this week’s practice of starting my posts with semi-relevant bad jokes, I present this classic sketch to introduce Pew Research’s State of the News Media 2014 report.

In all seriousness, it gets tiring as a journalism student to be told over and over that “journalism is dying” or whatever other condescending comments I get when people ask what I’m studying. It really isn’t dying but rather changing, which this report captures very well. We actually took a look at the report in two of my classes, therefore producing two different views, so I’ll segregate my findings in that manner.

Online news, as examined in my mobile and social media journalism class:

  • Digital news outlets aren’t hiring nearly as many people as print is cutting, but they’re hiring a lot. One example they cite is Vice, which hired 48 editorial people this year alone (and that’s 2014, not the past year) and currently has a staff size of 1,100, which is pretty substantial for a digital native. In comparison, HuffPost only has about half at 575.
  • Digital natives are also landing big-name print journalists, including several from the New York Times. A lot of them are forming (or were hired to head) investigative projects, which I found interesting; perhaps they’re not able to do as much investigative reporting with the bigwigs due to fear of damaging the name.
  • Digital news outlets are utilizing new tools that have developed with the rise of tech, such as crowdsourcing for articles and infographics for data visualization. Publications that started online will naturally have an easier time adapting to these things.

And the business side of things, as examined in my entrepreneurial journalism class:

  • While print is (again) not doing so well, certain bits of media are doing extremely well, including one I didn’t expect: early morning news. By this I mean really early news, like 4am. These shows have increased viewership by ~20 percent in the past year, and the number of stations offering programming this early have increased 159%. My friend pointed out that this is probably more common because people might have to commute farther to work and thus have to wake up at such a hideous hour, plus people coming home from third shift would treat this as their “evening” news.
  • Once again, digital is the way to go. 82% of people in the US got their news digitally, and 54% said they got it on a mobile device.

Of course, I’m only highlighting the things that I found interesting, which were mostly things that didn’t go on the “print journalism is dying” side of the argument.

What’s the next step from here?


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