The biggest question facing online journalism today is how to pay for it. With revenue declining both online and in legacy platforms, news organizations say they are intensifying the search for new models. What kind of new advertising options are out there? How will users respond? And would consumers in the marketplace accept pay walls?
Poynter Institute ethicist Kelly McBride was visiting former colleagues at the Spokane Spokesman-Review last summer, when the conversation slid into the how-bad-is-it? mode. It has gotten so bad, one journalist said, that the independent contractors who deliver the paper are complaining that the Monday edition doesn’t have enough throw-weight to get all the way up the porch.
The state of online news heading into 2010 may best be described as a moving target. Digital delivery is now well established as a part of most Americans daily news consumption. Six in ten Americans get some news online in a typical day—and most of these also get news from other media platforms as well.
Heading into 2009, there were some small signs of promise in network news. Viewership of the evening newscasts actually rose in the November, December and January following the 2008 presidential election. It dipped in February and March 2009, but was up again in April.
Maybe one of the few questions left about cable news is whether a channel attempting to build its brand around neutral reporting and balanced conversation can succeed.
Almost all the indicators for local TV are pointing down.
As 2010 began, several existential questions hung over the American magazine industry.
Most people still listen to news, talk and music for at least a little while every week, and they do most of this listening through traditional broadcast, or “terrestrial,” radio. This is where the audience is largest. Yet this is where the profit and revenue are under the most pressure. Many stations have left the air and some owners of multiple stations have entered bankruptcy.
In a year that saw the inauguration of the country’s first black president and the arrival on the Supreme Court of the first Hispanic justice, the ethnic news media managed to stay in relatively good health, despite the worst recession since the Great Depression, although some bruises and scars were picked up along the way.
Declines in news audience, revenue, reporting – and a grim picture for economic models for online news. From PEJ's annual State of the News Media report.