State of the News Media 2012

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) released their annual State of the News Media report, detailing trends in the news industry.  Here are some of the key findings, summarized:

  • Mobile news applications are giving readers a deeper experience with news than on personal computers.  It was found that, generally, mobile news applications were adding to, and not replacing, people’s news consumption.  The applications are allowing readers to turn to news organizations directly, rather than through a search or page links.
  • Social media outlets, while still important, are not overwhelming drivers of news.  While more than half of the US population is on Facebook, only 10% of digital news consumers follow recommendations from Facebook or Twitter ‘very often’.  And almost all of that 10% are still using other ways besides social media, including mobile apps or going directly to news websites.
  • CNN and MSNBC saw growth in viewership, while Fox News saw a second year of decline.  CNN saw the largest increase in viewership, at 16%, while MSNBC saw a modest 3% increase.  Fox News is still, by far, the leader in cable news consumption, but this trend is, at least, a little interesting.
  • More news outlets are moving to digital subscriptions as a means of survival.  Although some may attribute the move to digital subscriptions to the New York Times’ leadership in the news industry, it is clear that many newspapers could not survive without some kind of digital subscription.  Most news papers have lost almost half of their ad revenue since 2006

There were some interesting findings in this year’s report.  While no mention was made of gains in the tablet market, it is clear that mobile devices are seeing an increased usage for news consumption.  I’m interested to see if the proliferation of news on mobile devices will erode some of the market share for tablets, seeing as mobile devices are becoming more versatile, while the tablet has a relatively small amount of room for feature diversification.

I was glad to see that social media has not become the primary medium for news consumption, especially since the stories I see people reading via Facebook are typically about Ryan Gosling’s abs or Snooki’s fist-bumping fetus (or that ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ is ‘bizarre’… Really? I didn’t know that! I always thought the hypersexualization of children was socially encouraged.  I mean, who doesn’t love 5-year-old girls who look like a cross between Ursula and Homey the Clown?)

Overall, the findings in the report weren’t entirely shocking.  What it did do, however, was reaffirm that we’re becoming a digital society, and anyone or anything that doesn’t get with it is going to be left behind.

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