Important points in today’s ‘State of the Media’

Journalism, and more broadly media in general, have undergone tremendous changes in the last decade, which Pew Research has captured in its release of the State of the News Media 2014 report. Technology has dramatically shifted the landscape of the news industry, namely the platforms on which information is disseminated. The earlier stages of this shift certainly evoked a bleak outlook for journalism: newspapers once thought resolute for so many previous decades suddenly perished in a matter of short years. There was much room for cynicism.

Since then, however, the prognosis has improved drastically. Digital pioneers and newfound platforms have not only begun to fill the void of these out-of-print entities, they are yielding real economic gains and employment opportunities.

Thirty of the largest digital-only news organizations account for about 3,000 jobs and one area of investment is global coverage

Vice Media has 35 overseas bureaus; The Huffington Post hopes to grow to 15 countries from 11 this year; BuzzFeed hired a foreign editor to oversee its expansion into places like Mumbai, Mexico City, Berlin and Tokyo. The two-year-old business-oriented Quartz has reporters in London, Bangkok and Hong Kong, and its editorial staff speaks 19 languages. This comes amid pullbacks in global coverage from mainstream media.

This is good news. For a while it was thought that ‘churnalism’ was the wave of the future. Quality journalism is beneficial to society, but oftentimes, as with international or long-term investigative journalism, perhaps the most expensive. This aspect of the report shows that all hope is not lost for expanding journalistic horizons.

Of course, at least for me, and my interest in pursuing broadcast journalism, the impact on news television piqued my interest.

Local television, which reaches about nine in ten U.S. adults, experienced massive change in 2013, change that stayed under the radar of most

 Nearly 300 full-power local TV stations changed hands in 2013 at a price of more than $8 billion. The number of stations sold was up 205% over 2012 and the value up 367%, with big owners getting even bigger. If all the pending sales go through, Sinclair Broadcasting alone will own or provide service to 167 stations in 77 markets, reaching almost 40% of the U.S. population.

David Smith, the CEO of Sinclair, was even quoted saying he would like to have 80-90 percent of the viewing audience if he could get his hands on their broadcasting. The influence of these fewer and farther between owners, their money, and also the squeeze on resources for local TV stations to produce and share content, is unfortunately an area of concern that I will continue to watch closely.

What do you think? Is U.S. media headed in the right direction? Check out Pew’s State of the News Media 2014 report to see how your news consumption preferences are faring.


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