Sunday, March 12, 2006


NEWSPAPERS: Newspapers fading, but not that fast, PEJ annual report says


FOR FULL REPORT: as of Monday, March 13, 2006.

Annual State-of-Media Report: 2005 'Three Times Worse' Than 2004

By Editor & Publisher Staff

Published: March 12, 2006 5:40 PM ET

NEW YORK The annual "The State of the American News Media" report, to be
released Monday, declares that while 2004 was a bad year for the newspaper
industry, with circulation and advertising declines, "2005 was about
three times worse.".

It also asserts that at many old media companies "the decades-long battle
at the top between idealists and accountants is now over. The idealists
have lost. The troubles of 2005, especially in print, dealt a further blow
to this fight for journalism in the public interest." The report quotes an
editor a major paper: "If you argue about public trust today, you will be
dismissed as an obstructionist and a romantic."

In a surprising finding, the report states that the audience for online
news appears to have leveled off. The growth now is not in how many people
get news online, .but how often they do so..

The 700-page report, from the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ),
reveals that newspapers are expected to have lost about 1,500 jobs in
2005. That represents a drop of about 3,800 jobs, or about 7% since 2000.
Since 1990, circulation will have fallen nearly 15% or more than 9
million, on weekdays.

Yet the report concludes that .any idea that newspapers have turned a
corner and are on a rapid course to extinction seems overheated. The
circulation declines and job cuts will probably tally at only about 3% for
the year. The industry will still post profit margins of 20%. And if one
combines print and online, the readership of many newspapers is higher
than ever..

The report also looks in-depth at television, online, blogs, radio and

.The variety of news sources available today makes relying on a single
outlet seem like an outdated idea,. Project Director Tom Rosenstiel said.
.But consumers need to be careful about where they go and even when.
Stories come and go fast and getting a comprehensive picture of the news
can be difficult..

The big question, the report poses, is how long will it take online to get
to an economic model that rivals the old media in revenues. .In the
meantime, American newsrooms, already shrinking, may no longer be able to
cover the waterfront,. it warns.

Among other findings, as described by PEJ:

. The new paradox of journalism is more outlets are covering fewer
stories. As the number of news outlets grows, generally the audiences of
each one shrinks, and news organizations cut back on resources. Yet they
still all have to cover the big stories. Thus on most major events, we
have more reporters, but fewer stories are being covered generally. A
close look at the big news websites even demonstrates it. Google News
offers access within two clicks to 14,000 stories, but really they are
accounts of just 24 news events.

. Among newspapers big city metros appear to be suffering the biggest
circulation declines and newsroom cutbacks. The three national newspapers
and smaller papers are faring better. These big papers are caught between
people having access to national and international sources at one end, and
more niche publications on the other. Yet our content studies suggest the
big metros are the news organizations most likely to have the resources
and aspirations to act as watchdog over state, regional and urban
institutions, to identify trends, and to define the larger community
public square. It is unlikely small suburban dailies or weeklies will take
up that challenge.

.In the last year, the changes in media have intensified, and the problems
for print have accelerated,. said Rosenstiel. .Yet it.s probably glib and
even naïve to say simply that more platforms equal more choices. The
content has to come from somewhere, and as older news gathering media
decline, some of the strengths they offer in monitoring the powerful and
verifying the facts may be weakening as well..

The study, which contains detailed charts, graphs and citations, can be
accessed online at as of Monday morning.


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