PR & the State of the News Media 2011

by PR Coach

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released its much anticipated “The State of the News Media 2011” report today. It’s filled with facts, insight and media trends worth watching by PR pros.

Among the highlights of its analysis of US media during 2010:

  • 1000 to 1500 layoffs were expected in newspaper newsrooms, making them 30% smaller than in 2000.
  • Technology advances are wresting control of media from the media by aggregators, social networks, device makers and software companies who are taking a share of both revenue and customer data.
  • Nearly half of Americans (47%) get some of their news on a mobile device.
  • All news platforms saw a flattening or a decline in audience.
  • All three cable news networks saw a drop in viewers (13.7%) for the first time.
  • Network evening news viewership declined 3.4%.
  • For the first time, more people got their news from the Internet (46%) than newspapers (40%), trailing only local TV (50%) as a source for news.
  • Online ad revenue will surpass newspaper ad revenue for the first time in 2010.
  • New hires for digital and new media journalists were approximately the same as the number of those let go in media in 2010.
  • Traditional newsrooms are smaller, younger, more adaptive and more engaged in multimedia presentation, aggregation, blogging and user content.

  • US newspaper weekday circulation fell by 5% and dropped 4.5% on Sundays. In Europe circulation dropped less and in Africa and Asia it grew compared to 2009.
  • Magazine industry circulation dropped 1.9%.
  • While NPR audience grew 3%, radio news listening fell 9% as all-news programming began to disappear. The PEW study predicts big changes as Internet radio for cars becomes available.
  • With the exception of newspaper (down 6.4%), revenues at media increased in 2010: local TV (+17%), online revenue (+13.9%), cable TV (+8.4%), network TV (+6.6%), audio (+6%) and magazines (+1.4%).
  • New investment is focused on digital news properties evident in online properties such as Yahoo, AOL’s Patch and Bloomberg Government. Several publications moved to online-only models.

Whew. That’s a lot to digest and there’s more!

Comparing Traditional Media, Blogging and Twitter

An interesting element in the report was a comparison of traditional media, blogging and Twitter news coverage. Mainstream press and blogs had similar news interests. None of the top five mainstream and blogging news topics – the economy, 2010 election, BP oil spill, healthcare and Afghanistan – made the top five on Twitter.

On Twitter, the top five news stories were totally different: Apple (13%), Google (9%), Twitter (7%), Facebook (7%) and Afghanistan (2%).

Six further industry trends were highlighted in the report:

  1. The news industry is hiring executives from outside traditional media.
  2. Only 36 newspapers moved to paid content, but there are signs of consumer willingness to pay for content.
  3. The metrics of online users are getting more confusing.
  4. Local news remains intact in both content and revenue potential.
  5. It appears the economic model for news will be many smaller and more complex sources than before.
  6. The bailout of the car industry helped media revenues modest recovery in 2010.

What Should PR Watch For?

All in all, this annual review of media is an important study for PR pros. The most important trends we should monitor include:

  • The continued growth in online components by mainstream media such as the New York Times. Even local TV stations are gaining stronger web presence.
  • Continued growth in news delivered through mobile devices.
  • The growing importance of local digital news “channels.”
  • Further blending of digital properties with mainstream entities such as AOL combining with Huffington Post.
  • Continued acceleration in the speed and competitiveness of news.
  • Futher erosion in mainstream media’s audience due to the Internet.

We’ll be watching news very differently in the next several years. PR professionals will be interacting with a wider range of digital properties and new social media channels. Our relationships with mainstream media will evolve and change forever.

PR will need to continue to be nimble and increase its technology savvy constantly to stay ahead of these trends. It’s an exciting time to be in public relations.

I recommend you read the entire Pew report. You’ll take away some valuable insights.

If you’d like more PR resources, we’ve got more than 7,000 curated articles on 30 public relations topics in our PR Library. And the PR Bookstore is always open for your browsing pleasure.

Author:  Jeff Domansky is Editor, The PR Coach

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