The 2013 Pew State of Media report showed U.S. newsroom cuts were driving audiences away. But in a sharp contrast, this year’s report struck a different note: while many issues that troubled the media industry last year persist, “the level of new activity this past year is creating a perception that something important, perhaps even game-changing, is going on.”

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

The Pew State of Media report from last year showed that U.S. newsroom cuts were driving audiences away. But in a sharp contrast, this year’s report struck a different note, saying that while many of the issues that troubled the media industry last year persist, “the level of new activity this past year is creating a perception that something important, perhaps even game-changing, is going on.”

1. The job market is both up and down

While print newsrooms are shedding jobs, digital newsrooms are booming. However, the study notes that “the growth in new digital full-time journalism jobs seems to have compensated for only a modest percentage of the lost legacy jobs in newspaper newsrooms alone in the past decade.” Roughly 5,000 full-time professional jobs were created in the past six years. While the vast majority of original reporting still comes from newspapers, full-time professional newsroom employment declined another 6.4 per cent in 2012 and more are expected in 2013. 

2. Digital newsrooms are investing in overseas coverage as legacy media pull back

The Pew study notes that Vice Media has 35 foreign bureaus, Huffington Post plans to expand to four new countries this year and have a presence in 15 countries and BuzzFeed hired a foreign editor to oversee its expansion into places like Mumbai, Mexico City, Berlin and Tokyo. In contrast, legacy media have been pulling back on their overseas coverage. In 2013, network evening newscasts aired less than half of the foreign coverage they aired the late 1980s, and international reporters working for U.S. newspapers have declined 24 per cent from 2003 to 2010.


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3. Social media drives traffic but not engagement

The study found that while Facebook and search are critical for bringing in eyeballs, readers who come directly to a website show far higher levels of engagement and loyalty.

All images courtesy of Pew Research Journalism Project

4. Online video is growing

More than six in 10 U.S. adults now watch videos online, and roughly half of those—36 per cent of all adults—watch news videos. It’s not clear how much advertising online video is pulling in, however. No firms break out digital video advertising revenue specifically for news, but digital advertising has made rapid strides, growing 44 per cent from 2012 to 2013, to an estimated U.S.$4.15 billion, according to eMarketer. Meanwhile, local TV stations are moving into digital video, but at varying rates. A Pew Research audit of 32 local TV news websites finds that all but four offer video on their homepages, but the amounts range from six per cent to 92 per cent, and roughly half offer live streaming of their broadcast programs.

5. Local television viewership is bouncing back

Television viewership climbed six per cent for morning shows and three per cent for supper-hour newscasts, but only 0.1 per cent for late-night shows. This comes after the morning audience decreased by five per cent in 2012 and seven per cent for late-night and early-evening audiences. Still, local TV remains the preferred news channel for Americans, with 71 per cent watching local television news, compared with 65 per cent who watch network newscasts and 38 per cent who prefer cable news over the course of a month.

6. Women more likely than men to access news on Facebook

Women are more likely than men to access news on Facebook, while the opposite is true for LinkedIn. The study also found the majority of Facebook users, 78 per cent, mostly see news on the social media site without actually seeking it out. Entertainment news leads what kind of news Facebook users are likely to see.

7. The changing landscape of media revenue

While advertising and audience investments still account for the majority of revenue for media outlets, high-profile investments by venture capitalists and philanthropists now account for one per cent of their revenue.

 

“These newer investments—many of which are ‘unearned revenue’—do not yet represent a sea change in the business model. But they do signify a pivot in the news world,” the report stated. “More than the sum of dollars and cents, this funding patchwork serves as a series of signposts pointing toward the ways journalism may be paid for in the years to come.”


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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.