Trylon Communications  - April 2005

Going Backwards

While it is more important than ever that journalists check and double check their facts, a recent survey by News Generation, Inc, a corporate audio news distribution service, indicates that newsrooms are actually cutting back on the staff needed to do such research.

The survey of 50 randomly sampled radio news directors, reporters and assignment editors in the top-50 markets found that nearly three out of four radio stations and networks had experienced layoffs or consolidations in the past year. When asked how stations have handled having fewer reporters, 77 percent of respondents said the remaining reporters have had to take on extra work.

For most newsrooms, the effect of layoffs and consolidations seems to be less time to prepare for news reports. In fact, only 9 percent of stations spend 30 minutes or more preparing news reports on a regular basis, with nearly half of respondents reporting as little as five to ten minutes for each report.

Layoffs and consolidations have mostly affected stations with 10 to 25 reporters in their newsrooms. Stations with smaller news operations (one to three reporters) and larger ones (more than 25 reporters) have been less affected by layoffs or consolidations.

With layoffs and consolidations becoming more common, radio reporters are increasingly relying on outside sources for news content. Not surprisingly, these outside sources are usually found on the web. When asked what websites they visit most often for gathering news content, the majority of respondents cited because of its credibility and timeliness.

The combination of providing less manpower to research news stories and finding content on the web has serious implications. A Trylon article about respecting the truth (see article) advocates a return to journalism integrity and fact checking. However, if there is less time than ever to check facts, and if the content being used for reports comes from the Internet, we may be taking a step in the wrong direction.