Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pew Center: 1 in 5 Journalists in 2001 Is Now Out of the Business

Pew Research Center released its 2009 State of the Media Report last week. It's pretty ugly:

Newspaper ad revenues have fallen 23% in the last two years. Some papers are in bankruptcy, and others have lost three-quarters of their value. By our calculations, nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone, and 2009 may be the worst year yet. [A personal note, I'm one of the five. --- Jeff P.]

In local television, news staffs, already too small to adequately cover their communities, are being cut at unprecedented rates; revenues fell by 7% in an election year -- something unheard of -- and ratings are now falling or flat across the schedule. In network news, even the rare programs increasing their ratings are seeing revenues fall.

The ethnic press is also troubled and in many ways is the most vulnerable because so many operations are small.

Only cable news really flourished in 2008, thanks to an Ahab-like focus on the 2008 election, although some of the ratings gains were erased after the election.

Perhaps least noticed yet most important, the audience migration to the internet is now accelerating. The number of Americans who regularly go online for news, jumped 19% in the last two years, according to one survey; in 2008 alone traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27%.

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