Trylon Communications  - March 2006

More News, Less Information

The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s just released annual report on journalism, The State of the News Media, states that while there are more sources for news than ever before, the number of stories being covered and the depth of reporting are actually shrinking.

Citing increased competition and cost cutting at traditional media outlets, the report pointed out that fewer journalists are available to cover stories. The report also found that newspapers had the most extensive reporting and provided the greatest amount of depth, while the shallowest coverage came from cable news channels.

The study cited six emerging trends in news media:

  • More outlets covering fewer stories – increasing competition fragments audiences, which means each outlet has fewer consumers. To maintain margins, outlets must cut costs, thereby resulting in fewer available journalists to cover stories.

  • Big-city metro newspapers face the biggest challenges – these outlets suffered the largest drops in circulation, forcing large cutbacks. As newspapers are considered to have the most resources to provide in-depth reporting, there is a substantial effect on the news being provided.

  • Journalism in the public interest is losing leverage – traditional media are reacting to margins and cost structures instead of journalistic ethos and propriety.

  • Legacy media finally moving to technical innovation – mainly the result of increased revenue growth through online channels.

  • Aggregators facing pressures – outlets such as Yahoo! and Google simply reproduce the news of others. These news providers are considering charging aggregators for content.

  • New media has yet to prove to be an economic winner – while providing alternative consumption options, the metrics do not meet traditional media performance.

The report also indicated that many of the news media trends from last year are still relevant. We reported on those trends (see story) and agree that the relevance is still cogent. Combining those trends with the latest information can have a great deal of impact on PR practices in the coming year.