The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 03/17/2013 11:09 PM | Comments: 0
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Years of newsroom cutbacks have had a demonstrable impact on the quality of digital, newspaper and television news and in how consumers view that work, a study released Monday found.
Nearly one-third of consumers surveyed by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism said they have abandoned a news outlet because it no longer gave them what they had counted on, either with fewer or less complete stories.
Pew's annual State of the News Media report delivered what has become a common litany of grim business statistics. Television news viewership is down. Newsroom employment at newspapers is down 30 per cent since a peak in 2000 and has gone below 40,000 people for the first time since 1978. Newsweek shut its print edition and Time magazine is cutting staff.
"These cutbacks are real," said Amy Mitchell, the project's acting director. "And based on the data that we've collected, they are having an effect."
Government coverage on local television news has been cut in half since 2005, the study said. Sports, weather and traffic now account for 40 per cent of the content on these broadcasts; yet that's just the sort of information readily available elsewhere. That's a recipe for future erosion, Mitchell said.
Forty-two per cent of adults under age 30 counted themselves as regular local news viewers in 2006; last year that was down to 28 per cent, the study found.
Cable news is increasingly cable talk, although it's difficult to conclude whether that is because of financial considerations or the sense among executives of what viewers want. Over the last five years, CNN has sharply cut back on produced story packages and live event coverage, the study found.
During the presidential campaign, reporters increasingly acted as megaphones instead of investigators, Pew said. More stories are simply reporting verbatim what candidates or partisans were saying, rather than using those statements as a starting-off point to explore an issue.
There are many more places that people can go for news or information now. The question is whether consumers are leaving prominent news organizations because they are not getting what they want, or whether these outlets can no longer afford to give them more because consumers are leaving, said David Westin, former ABC News president.
"Increasingly, it's not just a question of what people want," said Westin, who presided over an era of cutbacks at ABC News. "It's what people are willing to pay for."
More organizations are experimenting with charging for digital content, which Mitchell called a positive sign. The Pew report said 450 of the nation's 1,380 daily newspapers have started or announced plans for some kind of paid subscription model. Partly as a result, newspaper circulation stayed steady in 2012 after years of decline. Revenue continued to go down, though.
With newsroom cutbacks, some news organizations supplement their reporting through work funded through other sources, like ProPublica and the Kaiser Family Foundation's service for reporting health news. When he was at ABC, Westin said the network accepted a grant from the Gates Foundation for reporting on subjects like the water supply in Africa it otherwise would not have been able to afford.
Pew's survey of 2,000 consumers taken earlier this year revealed that a majority of people had little or no awareness that the news industry has financial problems. The people aware of the problems are the ones more likely to abandon a news outlet because they weren't getting what they wanted.
Of the people who left a news outlet, 61 per cent said that the stories were less complete than they had been, Pew said.
"We are at a point where we have to get back to quality and think about what we are giving people," Mitchell said.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Worker dead after Falling Skies mishap in B.C.
Bones discovered by volunteer searchers on banks of Red River
Number of mayoral candidates drops to seven
Manitoba Hydro's retained earnings hit record $2.72B
News Café to host mayoral forum on urban planning Wednesday
Man who killed 4 women gets 25 years before parole
U.S. Steel Canada files for CCAA protection
Developer proposes dumping inert lime at Brady landfill
Kil-Cona Park, Harbour View complex seeking $25-million redevelopment
Wyatt back to running for council seat
Jets announce training schedule
New HudBay mines expected to create hundreds of jobs
Obama's Ebola response: Is it enough and in time?
Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's voice NFL disapproval
Canada: America's sweetheart, survey suggests
GWL given extension to repair home on Balmoral Street
Imminent delivery brings excitement to law courts
Wynne to speak at Manitoba Liberals dinner
Award-winning writer, co-founder of Turnstone Press dies
A new peace? Six-year deal for B.C. teachers
Tax agency sets up snitch line for own staff
Next title: Elizabeth, Queen of Scots?
Barrier-free washroom creates headaches for business owner, city
First five jurors chosen in Magnotta murder trial
Harvard-educated architect talks City Beautiful at News Café Tuesday
Tories seek museum content
Stretch of Aberdeen Avenue to be known as Honorary Taras Shevchenko Way.
Web filter lifts block on gay sites
No acclamations in city school trustee races
Other Opinion: Personal freedoms suffer in pursuit of safety
Rally to raise Ebola awareness to be held at legislature Wednesday
Wasylycia-Leis would create urban ideas centre to spur innovation
NY: Wal-Mart levied fictional 'sugar tax' on soda
Afghanistan Memorial Vigil on display at legislature
Correction: Music-U2-iTunes story
Emergency crews at scene of serious crash
Giller Prize doubles award purse to $100,000
Harper could be Duffy trial witness
Wheels of justice turn slowly: a case for the ages