Study Still Finds Pulse in Press

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

Study Still Finds Pulse in Press


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The press: DOA? Not quite.

Indeed, the American news media were obsessed with the 2008 presidential election and overwhelmed by complex economic news, and must cope with the stark realities of flagging finances, fickle consumers and challenging technology.

It is the bleakest of times, said the 2009 State of the News Media Report, released Monday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

But the press is still standing. There is some promise in the future. In print, broadcast and online, the news media have an eager, evolving audience and a landscape brimming with vitality - not to mention huge amounts of news.

We still do not subscribe to the theory that the death of the industry is imminent, the 700-page report said, noting that newspapers in particular remained profitable, though their overall revenue declined 16 percent in the past 12 months.

The problem facing American journalism is not fundamentally an audience problem or a credibility problem. It is a revenue problem - the decoupling of advertising from news, the report said.

And it is a time bomb.

Thanks to global economic woes, news organizations have precious little time to figure out how to reinvent themselves and ultimately monetize their content as they woo readers, viewers and listeners who have been liberated from the old constraints of years past. News now comes in the delivery method of choice.

Reinvention does not usually come from managers prudently charting course. It tends to come from risk-takers trying the unreasonable, seeing what others cannot, imagining what is not there and creating it, the research said, suggesting that news organizations could opt for monthly access fees or online retail malls within their news sites. …

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