Notes from webinar: State of the News Media 2012

Here’s a quick notebook dump from today’s Poynter webinar: “State of the News Media 2012.” Lots of good conversation starters here …

A discussion of key points in the new Pew Research Center report.
You can find the entire report at

Presenter: Tom Rosentiel, who designed the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.


People are more likely to read longer stories on a tablet than on a desktop or laptop. And it’s a different advertising experience – much more like print. Flipping pages. Static ads you don’t necessarily click on.

68% of all online ads go to 5 companies: google, amazon, etc. And their share is increasing. FB to have >20 % of digital display ads by 2015

Paywalls (digital subscriptions) gaining traction. Why? One big factor is the success of NYTimes. 400,000 new online subscribers who are not print subscribers.

In five years, many papers will offer print home-delivery editions only on Sundays, or maybe 1-2 other days a week (Newspapers don’t make their revenue evenly through the week – sometimes half is from Sundays).

e.g. – Sunday plus food section day might equal 70 percent of print revenue. Kill other days. Tom: “Now you’re starting to talk about a model that might be workable.”

“But you can reach a tipping point where you make the product seem so diminished that people say, ‘you know, I don’t really need this.’”

Weekday circ. Continues to fall (-4 percent). Sundays more stable (-1 percent). But with online audiences added in, newspapers’ audiences are very stable.

TV news viewership grew last year – first increase in a decade for national news; first growth in 5 years for local TV news.

Trend – uneasiness about privacy (especially older audiences). People are more aware that gmail is reading their email, for example.

People are NOT getting their primary news from Facebook or Twitter. It’s supplemental. Fewer than 10 percent of digital news consumers say they very often follow news recommendations from FB or Twitter on a digital device. It’s news they would have gotten anyway.

Twitter users tend to be young, male and highly educated.

FB is mostly a family and friends network. Rarely people you don’t know.

Not a lot of overlap between FB and Twitter users. A little.


Use of online (up 17%), network TV, local TV, radio, cable TV all up last year. Magazines flat. NPs down 4.5% – but more than offset by the online increase – much of which is newspapers.

Network TV partially attributable to major breaking news – Arab spring, Tuscon shootings, tsunami. Last time there was an uptick like this was after 9/11.

Tom: “News creates its own demand.” – When the news is hot, more people tune in, particularly to TV. Sense of peril. People consume more news. Newspapers and magazines are somewhat less elastic.

Fox News saw second straight year of decline – 3 percent prime time, 2 percent daytime


It’s not an audience crisis for traditional, legacy media. It’s a revenue crisis.

Most online revenue gains are going to aggregators – not original content producers.

Newspaper ad revenue still down

Online ads up 23 percent in 2011.

85-90 percent of newspapers’ revenue is from print, even though close to half the audience is online.

So … for every print dollar we’re losing, we’re gaining 10 cents online. (dollars to dimes)

Choice: Either increase revenue or reduce costs. About 50 percent of a newspaper’s costs are printing and delivery.

Cable TV subscriptions built into 10-year contracts with providers.

Newsrooms are shrinking as companies try to stay in the black. Folks are stretched thinner – not only with coverage, but social media. Smaller newsrooms and people moving faster.

Magazine launches are up.

TV staffs growing – especially large markets. But many more “one-man bands.” Small market newsrooms are not growing.

Wall Street is seeing more value in local TV stations than in newspapers.

Community news sites: Seed grants are running out. Most notably: Chicago News Cooperative ceased to exist. Newspaper people had started sites with their buyout money.

Unlike newspapers, no single revenue stream is large enough to sustain an online operation.

J schools are becoming a larger part of local digital news cooperatives

Expect more local online partnerships with TV, newspapers, radio.

People are NOT running away from traditional news values of neutrality, robust sourcing, etc. In fact, the appeal of those things is growing. This is not what Wired Magazine said was going to happen.

YouTube – moving into original news content. Within a few years it will be a major producer of programming, like a TV network. The hyperlocal experiment. The problem was, anything that is hyperlocal also means it’s got a very limited audience. Too expensive to cobble up enough content to generate ads. Patch’s approach was to put national ads with local news. So far, not much success. Most sites not yet at a break-even point. “There are real doubts about Patch. One young, inexperienced person trying to cover a whole community. … How much value does that have?”

“No scalable model exists yet.”

Terrestrial radio increase: People are in their cars longer. Commute times have extended. But this may change, because more and more cars are being built with internet capability.

On your phone or tablet, where there’s no physical keyboard, people are clicking on the app of a real news organization, not an aggregator. This is different from the way people consume news on a desktop.

The public square is smaller and shallower than it used to be. Our shared knowledge is not as deep as it used to be. But there’s still the question, “Is there anything I need to know?”

Cooperatives are forming. AP is part of one. The idea is, charge aggregators a licensing fee for making use of our original material in any way.

The appeal of news to companies that make most of their profits elsewhere. News is an added value for companies like Bloomberg or Reuters (they make their money with financial data).






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s