News Industry Blues: Six Major Trends Affecting the Survival of U.S. Journalism

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On Tuesday, July 22, I hosted a webinar about the news industry, entitled “Deliver More Stories: A New Framework to Scale Content Production” with special guest Mark Jurkowitz, Associate Director at the Pew Research Center.

View a replay of the webinar

The journalism expert shared insights from The State of the News Media 2013, the annual report on American journalism published by Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The study examines trends in news gathering and reporting, as well as how Americans consume news.

Here’s a brief overview of the 2013 report, as seen through six major trends in U.S. journalism:

1. After ten brutal years of budget cuts for newsrooms, investigative reporting has suffered — and the public has noticed. Newsroom staffing has fallen 30% since 2000. Nationwide, the roster of full-time professionals dropped below 40,000 for the first time in nearly 40 years. As a consequence, over 30% of survey respondents say they have abandoned a news source because it has stopped bringing the same quality and depth of news as in the past.

2. Entrenched players like Google and Facebook continue to shut out the news industry from getting a significant portion of new digital advertising dollars. Mobile advertising expanded by 80% in 2012 to $2.6 billion, but 72% of dollars go to half of a dozen technology companies, including Pandora, Apple, Millenial Media, Twitter, and the two previously mentioned, effectively keeping news orgs out of its traditional share.

3. Total revenue remains fairly small, but sponsored content has demonstrated significant growth. News companies have taken early steps to move into this revenue stream, including advertorial and native advertising, which has a growth rate of 38.9%, second only to that of video. The Atlantic, Forbes, Hearst, Time, Condé Nast, and many newspapers are running or plan to run native ads.

4. The apparent success of digital subscription models offers a bright spot for news orgs. 450 of the nation’s 1,380 newspaper dailies have begun or announced plans to charge for content. Digital subscriptions may prove an essential element in journalism’s survival. In most cases, however, subscription revenue generated doesn’t make up for lost ad revenue.

5. Local television stations may be the next victims in the digital upheaval’s path. Local TV stations saw ratings drop in key dayparts on all networks in 2012. Adults under 30 who regularly watch local television dropped from 42% in 2006 to 28% in 2012.

6. Social media and actual word of mouth bring about deeper news consumption. 72% of adults say that word of mouth from family and friends is the most common way to get news. 15% of U.S. adults get most of their news from social networking.

To read the full The State of the News Media 2013 annual report on American journalism, sponsored by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, please go to http://stateofthemedia.org/.

Court Stroud works as Director, Sales for Skyword. He holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. His writing has appeared in HUFFINGTON POST, NEW YORK POST, NEW YORK PRESS, and many other newspapers and magazines. A former resident of Mexico and France, he abhors Speedy Gonzales but does a killer imitation of Pepé Le Pew. Follow him on Twitter @CourtStroudNYC, and circle him on Google+.

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