Magazine article The Quill

Winner: Tom Rosenstiel, Amy S. Mitchell and the Project for Excellence in Journalism Staff

Magazine article The Quill

Winner: Tom Rosenstiel, Amy S. Mitchell and the Project for Excellence in Journalism Staff

Article excerpt

The Internet and 24-hour news provoke the public to be its own editor and producer. In turn, American journalism is changing. For some, this change is a sign of freedom of the press. For others, the change is creating a blurry and dangerous line of opinions and facts.

Project for Excellence in Journalism accessed the shift in American journalism, creating The State of the News Media 2004. The report, the first of its kind, studied the health of today's news media.

The answer we arrive at in 2004 is that journalism is in the midst of an epochal transformation, as momentous probably as the invention of the telegraph or television.

Journalism, however, is not becoming irrelevant. It is becoming more complex. We are witnessing conflicting trends of fragmentation and convergence simultaneously, and they sometimes lead in opposite directions.

Staff spent more than a year putting together the report, which occupies its own Web site at

"Creating a study of this scope for the first time was a bit like climbing a mountain with no map, only our imagination, as our guide," said Tom Rosenstiel, director for Project for Excellence in Journalism. "Assembling and pulling the vast array of data on the media into something cohesive involved a big learning curve for everyone."

The report is more than 500 printed pages, containing more than 100 charts and tables and 400 footnoted citations.

A brief look at its nine chapters:

NEWSPAPERS: Newspaper circulation has declined 11 percent since 1990, but finances for the business have improved thanks to a decline in newsprint costs. Twenty-two companies own 39 percent of papers, representing 70 percent of daily circulation. Thirty percent of stories use anonymous sources, more than any other media.

ONLINE: The Internet is one of only two media with an increasing audience. The economics are still unclear on online media, but revenue growth is increasing. Media giants dominate 69 percent of the 20 most popular news Web sites, but personal blogs are gaining steam. Online content is largely recycled, boasting only 32 percent original lead stories. The public enjoys the variety of news sources (traditional, governmental, etc.) available online.

NETWORK TV: Nightly network news shifted to a more serious tone post-9/11, but most prime time magazines continue to forgo the day's serious news. …

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