Journalism in the US: The momentum might have shifted, but gravity still pulling everyone down http://econ.st/1jzhhww
IN FEBRUARY Vice, a media firm that caters to youngsters who like their news with a dollop of sass and hip-hop, toured the opulent residence of the ousted president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and posted the video online. “It looks like a weird dictatorship theme park,” the sardonic reporter told the camera. A new report by the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank, finds that a third of Americans now watch news videos online, about as many as say they watch news on cable television. Among those aged 18-29, around half do.
In years past Pew’s “State of the News Media” reports have been sombre, chronicling the evisceration of jobs and the gutting of news budgets. This year, however, Pew sounded more optimistic, pointing to the slew of digital-news services, such as Vice’s online news channel, that have sprung up recently. Around 5,000 full-time jobs have been created at 468 digital-news firms, according to Pew. Many online-news firms have hired high-profile journalists away from big publications, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, and are launching bureaus around the world (although not nearly as many as have been shuttered by newspapers).
Digital news firms used to do little besides rehashing traditional newspapers’ stories. Now they are starting to feature more original articles. Last year Business Insider, a business-news site, ran a profile of Marissa Mayer, the boss of Yahoo. At 23,000 words, it was as long as a novella. “Online you can afford to do that. In a magazine you’d go broke,” says Henry Blodget, the boss of Business Insider. BuzzFeed, which used to be known for casting out “click bait” online, now claims around 170 full-time staff, including a Pulitzer-prize winner, Mark Schoofs, who has been hired to run a new investigative team… MORE
On Wednesday, Pew released its eleventh annual State of the News Media report, featuring a wealth of data and analysis for journalists to chew over. The report underscored the optimism present in media this year, especially with the growth of serious digital reporting outfits. A crop of new digital outlets, such as those created by Pierre Omidyar with First Look Media and Ezra Klein with Vox spelled good news for the future. But while this dynamism is encouraging, the question of creating a sustainable financial model for journalism seems to remain elusive. Other encouraging signs included the growth of mobile ad revenues as well as video content at various news outlets. This week, we’re joined by special guests Amy Mitchell from Pew to discuss the report, as well as Adrienne LaFrance, who wrote an article about it for Quartz. We’ll also be joined by regulars Monica Guzman of the Seattle Times and Geekwire and NPR’s Elise Hu, with PBS MediaShift’s Mark Glaser hosting. (MediaShift, March 27, 2014)