The state of the American news media in 2008 is more troubled than a year ago. And the problems, increasingly, appear to be different than many experts have predicted.
Two overriding, continuing stories took turns dominating headlines in 2007. As the year began, the increasingly bloody Iraq war and the fierce political debate over war strategy drove intensive coverage of the conflict. And the launch of Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacies at the outset of the year triggered aggressive coverage of the earliest-starting campaign in U.S. history.
In the fall of 2007, PEJ in conjunction with the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press surveyed over 500 journalists about the state of their profession and their attitudes towards the future. A cross section of national and local reporters, editors and executives, this survey builds off a similar survey conducted for the 2004 State of the News Media. It finds clear shifts in the major concerns, areas of strength and broad values voiced by those surveyed. The detailed results of the survey come from the Pew Research Center with a commentary on the findings by PEJ.
Newspapers are still far from dead, but the language of the obituary is creeping in. The industry has been in declining health for some time now. It got sicker rather than better in 2007, and 2008 offers no prospect of a quick cure.
After a decade of high hopes, there are increasing concerns about the Web’s ability to meet the news industry’s financial challenges.
After a tumultuous 2006 with shakeups among anchor and executives, 2007 marked a return to more stability for network news.
Cable television news showed further signs of maturity in 2007. After a year of losses, the medium regained viewers, especially at prime time, though the roster of winners is changing.
One of the few sources of news that continues to be popular, local television news is nevertheless facing the challenges of new technology and new consumer lifestyles.
The change signaled by the biggest news magazines as they headed into 2007 has begun, but it will require more time to judge whether it represents genuine change or just a pause along the way of decline.
The one constant in trying to understand the ethnic media in the United States is that its audience is in perpetual transition. New immigrants are arriving, sometimes moving to new communities. Existing audiences may or may not remain loyal, depending on the medium, the competition and the ethnicity.