prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

The State of the News Media

Posted by prof e on April 12, 2009

state_of_news1According to The State of the News Media, a report by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, audiences for news are shrinking and advertising revenue is falling. News magazines and newspapers have lost the most readers, followed by local and network news. On a positive note, internet and cable TV news are attracting new viewers. The down side is that internet news users are still difficult to sell to advertisers.

The other problem with internet news is that many online news outlets don’t do much if any news reporting…they simply aggregate news from various sources, e.g. Associated Press and Reuters, and bundle them for visitors to their websites. This model is unsustainable if the ones actually doing the reporting are not sharing in the revenue generated by the online advertising. As newspapers fold and reporters are laid off, there will be fewer stories available to the online portals such as Yahoo! and Google news. In some ways it mimics the change that our country has seen over recent decades. We have moved from manufacturing to a service economy. No one wants to make things anymore, and it seems that no one wants to “produce” news content. Without reporters in the field making calls, conducting interviews, showing up at events, and keeping their ears to the ground, the future of journalism looks bleak…and news organizations are scared.

So if your business model is broken and your source of income is in jeapordy, what do you do? Just last week the Associated Press (AP) announced that they would take legal action against aggregators (such as Yahoo! and Google) who use their headlines and news excerpts without paying copyright premission. While Google pays AP for full articles that it carries on the Google website, the problem pertains to Google’s, and other aggregators’, use of headlines and excerpts. News aggregators have argued Fair Use and say that they drive traffic to the AP website in return for using a short bit of the news copy. In this difficult economic climate, the battle is about power, prestige, and, ultimately, survival.

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2 Responses to “The State of the News Media”

  1. Alex Timmons said

    One of the banner arguments for maintaining a viable press is the belief that people need news media in order to remain democratically informed. This is a noble claim, but it has never been true. Information dissemination is a function of marketing. Education is an endeavor of personal and interpersonal attainment. The news media provide an abundance of useless information and little in the way of personal experience; the internet, even more information and even less experience.

    So in a way, the shift of information culling from a costly paper model to a far cheaper electronic one makes perfect business sense. It makes consumers much easier to segment, market to, and control. Profiteers are simply struggling to find better ways to capitalize on a medium that is for money making purposes too unfettered. The downside is that it’s relatively difficult to corner an online market; the upside is that people can dabble in everything and become proficient in nothing.

    What the news industry is mourning is not the loss of a noble, democratic medium, but rather the loss of their livelihood.

    The answer to the profitability question is regulation. The AP and hard news producers alike will have to lobby for legislation in order to survive. This is the logical next phase for the internet economy since every form of media is being hybridized into this highly efficient, global model of commerce — where any producer or consumer with a computer can generate or acquire content. Only regulation will help profiteers from any particular sector continue to make money. It will be interesting to see how the internet changes from being a seemingly open medium to a highly partitioned one, but it’s pretty obvious that in ten years it will look wholly different from today. Of course, this implies new taxation too, so it will be fascinating to watch partisan politics get even worse in the coming years.

  2. Michelle Mankins said

    I think that it is inevitable that newspapers and news magazines are getting less popular and that online news is getting more play. It makes sense. We are in an era where technology and the Internet are our resource, rather than books, newspapers and news magazines. I personally read the newspaper online. What I do think is a problem is that they do need advertising. Honestly, I think that if they were able to get the same kind of advertisements that they get in the newspapers etc. then those advertisers would still be successful and be able to thrive. This all has to do with the marketing that these news coorperations have and now willing they are to get these advertisers on board. I think that having the search engines pay for copyright to stories is a good way to go, but they need advertising too. They will need both to thrive.

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