Happy St. Patrick's Day
Religion, Politics & Religion (Part One)

State of News

Interactive-graphic The Pew Research Center issued is annual report on the State of the News Media this week. 

Some of the findings were not all that surprising -- newspapers continue to lose money, the network TV evening news programs continue to lose viewers but still have the largest audiences, and more people are getting their news from online sources. 

Also not surprising, but a first nevertheless, more people get their news from the web than newspapers. Four out of ten Americans get most of their news about national and international issues from the Internet. 

Nearly half (47%) get some kind of local news on their mobile phone. That makes the Internet the number two source for national and international news after television. (When local news is added in, the Internet ties with radio.)

Among 18 to 29 year-olds, the web is already the number one news source.  It was the only news medium that grew in 2010. The top three cable news networks saw audience declines. Cable TV news lost nearly 14% of its audience overall. 

CNN lost more than a third (37%), Fox lost 11%, and MSNBC, 5%. Most of the leading online news sources have ties to legacy news media, either through ownership (e.g., New York Times) or aggregation (e.g., Yahoo News). 

The Pew report raises some questions:

  • Where are these TV news viewers going?  Some are obviously shifting media -- e.g., from newspapers to online -- but I suspect many are simply consuming less news entirely.  
  • To what extent are people filtering online media to focus on news that interests them or on opinions they value?  I suspect a lot. 
  • How is the ideological viewership of cable news changing?  Is FOX getting even more conservative viewership, while MSNBC's grows more liberal? I suspect CNN lost more than the others because its political bent is less obvious.  
  • What is the split between the network TV shows and cable news as people's primary source for news? The last time this was studied, two-thirds of people said cable news was their primary source, even though the big three evening news programs had much larger audiences. 
  • How do email and social media fit into this overall news mix?  The last time this was studied, something like four out of ten people said they got news via email. 
  • How much longer can aggregators continue to make more money on news than the organizations that produced it in the first place?  I suspect that turkey will come home to roost in next year's report.











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