The State of the News Media

Friday, March 22, 2013


This week, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual “State of the News Media” report, detailing the health, or in this case the frailty, of mainstream US media online and off. The report contained a litany of grim statistics about the consumption and economics of news. Bob talks to Pew Associate Director Mark Jurkowitz, who says the situation isn’t is bleak as it could be.

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Mark Jurkowitz

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [5]


Just listened to this Podcast, and one thing that struck me was this notion that news needs to make money. The comment was made that currently people expect news to be free. Since when has news in-and-of-itself generated revenue? We have newspapers that entertain and supply ads, and use these to generate the income necessary to provide news. If news alone generated revenue, why does everything have an ad in it? Specific knowledge that can lead to advantages in business certainly is worth paying for, and people and businesses do. But just straight up news?

When the Government "gave away" spectrum to broadcasters, there was a requirement that they use the airwaves to educate the populace, leading to real news gathering entities. That's considered quaint these days. And we now discuss NPR in terms of how little taxpayer money is used to produce and fund shows, such that any concept of government funded news gathering is comical.

If we want an educated and knowledgable populace, then we as a nation need to figure out a way to get news to individuals. We can't rely on the broadcast of news (not that we have for years and years), since more and more people are consuming content in ways other than passive reception. Note that "government sponsored" and "government controlled" need not be the same thing. Mandating that organizations that profit from government licenses also provide news isn't the same thing and a state-run news agency.

At some point, we have to stop kidding ourselves that businesses want anything more than profits. If no one can figure out how to sell news, well, then, the only news we'll get will be the "news" that corporations decide we should hear. Most probably, "news" that will urge us to buy whatever they're selling.

Forget the "liberal" media, it'll be conglomerate news, 24x7. "Scientist find sugar in everything best thing to eat!" with a side-bar on the benefits of sugar on teeth.

Good times.

Apr. 02 2013 02:15 AM
roy from whitleyville, TN

Very serious consideration as to "responsible journalism" must be given to the press, in general, and NPR in specific for failure to carry out reliable communication, i.e., reporting of newsworthy events.

Specifically, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is a lobbying group. Lobbying on behalf of firearm and munitions manufacturers, as well as individual citizen members. I have yet to find a "reported" story of gun control controversy where corporate membership were denoted...named. Not the top ten corporate members of NRA...not the top twenty...corporate membership essentially shielded from public scrutiny.

The names of corporate sponsorship...funders of the NRA Lobby...does not require extended investigative efforts...assign an unpaid intern! This isn't Watergate. It is inept and disgraceful lack of credible reporting, more likely an EDITORIAL disgrace than a journalist downfall.

Mar. 28 2013 10:13 AM
Frank Hartzell from Fort Bragg

On the Media accepts that Market based journalism is a good thing or the only thing. I dont think that can be in the longterm. I have been a newspaperman since 1983 and have seen market based thinking kill our ability to understand the world.
Here is an example. Teh guest was saying how WONDERFUL it is that newspapers are making money charging to access their archives. Because archives now cost and have for a while, history is lost in news articles. I cant pay every time I write a story for the background, so it goes without. In the old days, there was a librarian at the NYT who would take inquiries from their reporters and sometimes others. There was a full history of issues. Newspaper morgues were killed off in the 1990s with the advent of chain ownership. I saw 100 years of records go into the trash at three different dialy newspapers where I worked during this time. This was a HUGE community resource that made no money, so bang, trash it after a century.
I would ask On the Media to come up with guests who are outside the box of market based journalism on these type stories.
I love On the Media and this was a great topic. It doesnt register among the more political topics but this one threatens our future much more than how a rape is reported (Also excellent story)

Mar. 25 2013 10:36 PM

Oh dear me.

I reversed the stat.

MSNBC = 15% news, 85% opinion.

I regret the error of course. And am happy to correct myself on this one. I absolutely promise that this was an unintended error, not designed to highlight the numbers in question.

Mar. 24 2013 07:51 PM

So Bob missed what was one of the biggest headlines of the Pew study. The fact that MSNBC, alone among the cable news outlets, was almost all [left-wing] opinion. With little hard news coverage. MSNBC was quantitatively, if not qualitatively, different from its competitors CNN and Fox News.

CNN was rated as 55% news, 45% opinion.
Fox News was rated as 45% news, 55% opinion.
MSNBC was rated as 85% news, 15 % opinion.

Here's the link. It was not a buried little factoid. It was a front-page thing. As authored by Bob's guest, Mark Jurkowitz:

Bob's ideological colleagues at MSNBC will no doubt be grateful for his having buried the lead this time.

Mar. 24 2013 05:09 PM

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