The business of journalism is quickly running of out time to transform its model, a new study from the Project in Excellence in Journalism found.
The State of the News Media Report -- the foundation's sixth edition -- is also the "bleakest" confirming massive job losses, plunging advertising revenue and a drop in profit margins.
The authors of the report said that newspaper advertising revenue fell 23% in the last two years, accounting for the major job cuts in the industry. Nearly one out every five journalist working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone and that this year "may be the worst yet" for layoffs.
The severe recession has only hastened the decline. The report estimated the downturn "at least doubled the revenue losses in the news industry in 2008" and "it swamped most of the efforts at finding new sources of revenue. In trying to reinvent the business, 2008 may have been a lost year, and 2009 threatens to be the same."
Compounding this problem is that more people migrated to the Internet "fairly dramatically" in 2008 with visits to the top 50 news sites increasing 27%. At the same time, the amount generated from online advertising has fallen due to a glut of inventory. The report said that the average rate charged per 1,000 views dropped in half to a paltry 26 cents.
"At least in the short run, a bigger online audience has worsened things for legacy news sites, not helped them," said the report
The report found the following major trends:
* The focus about how to finance the news industry -- particularly micropayments and nonprofit ownership -- is likely misplaced. "The micropayment idea was tried and rejected by users early on and has run into headlong resistance from online advocates," the report said.
And the non-profit model has limited resources. …