According to the latest State of the News Media report from Pew Research Center, U.S. newsrooms have cut staff by 30 percent since 2000 Ė and itís hurting journalism. Quality is suffering on both the local and the regional and national levels. There isnít enough manpower to properly identify, research and report on real news stories, so more emphasis is given to fluff like sports and the weather. The result?

According to a Pew survey of newsreaders, 31 percent had given up on a news outlet because it no longer provided the news like it used to. Those who chose to leave tended to be the heaviest news consumers in higher education and income brackets.

One of the consequences of this is that more companies and organizations are deciding to forgo the traditional media route and are opting for a direct approach to the public. This sometimes involves using sponsored posts as a way to get their message out.

News organizations face the growing problem of trying to distinguish between valuable information that the public needs to know about and agenda-driven talking points. The risk here is that readers will confuse sponsored content with real news, leading to an even greater level of dissatisfaction with the current state of the news media.