State of the News Media – Pew Research 2014 Report

Every year, the Pew Research Journalism Project releases a ‘state of the nation’ study on how journalism and news media are progressing nation-wide.

The study addresses many, many metrics: which demographics are doing what, which platforms are performing in which verticals, and assessing where the creme de la creme are focusing their efforts.

According to the overview of the report,

Digital players have exploded onto the news scene, bringing technological knowhow and new money and luring top talent. BuzzFeed, once scoffed at for content viewed as “click bait,” now has a news staff of 170, including top names like Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Schoofs, and is the kind of place that ProPublica’s Paul Steiger says he would want to work at if he were young again. Mashable now has a news staff of 70 and enticed former New York Times assistant managing editor Jim Roberts to become its chief content officer. And in January of this year, Ezra Klein left the Washington Post for Vox media, which will become the new home for his explanatory journalism concept. Many of these companies are already successful digital brands – built around an innate understanding of technology – and are using revenues from other parts of the operation to get the news operations off the ground.”

While those names come as a big surprise – old school dons switching sides – the general data does not. And there’s a good reason:

“The new money from philanthropists, venture capitalists and other individuals and non-media businesses, while promising, amounts to only a sliver of the money supporting professional journalism. Traditional advertising from print and television still accounts for more than half of the total revenue supporting news, even though print ad revenues are in rapid decline. While seeing some small gains in new revenue streams like digital subscriptions and conferences, total newspaper advertising revenue in 2013 was down 49% from 2003. (That 2013 number also includes some niche and non-daily publications.) Television ad revenue, while stable for now, faces an uncertain future as video becomes more accessible online. What’s more, most of the new revenue streams driving the momentum are not earned from the news product itself.”

With revenue (and profits) ever more skewed in the favor of digital media, the old ways of reporting the news are absolutely going the way of the dodo. Not that it’s necessarily a terrible thing – we journalists simply have to work out how to navigate the new territory while maintaining our editorial integrity.

To view the whole report, click here.