High among the issues is what Pew terms a decline in news reporting resources. Continued newspaper newsroom cutbacks put industry employment below 40,000 full time employees (the lowest since 1978) and 30% below peak newspaper employment levels in 2000. And this spring and summer has seen many newspapers cut their photo departments, instead telling their reporters to use their cellphones to photograph events. This has impacted content, with Pew research showing that sports, weather, and traffic now account for 40% of newscast content, while the average length of video news stories continues to shrink. Cable news channel live coverage shrank some 30%, while interview segments increased 31%. As the report summarizes,
This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.The report also notes that the last few years have also seen a significant rise in newsmakers and others seeking to put information in front of people using online and social media to take their message directly to the people, without the gatekeeping and contextualizing that news organizations normally provide. A study suggested that in 2012, that resulted in campaign reporters acting more as megaphones for the campaign than objective (and critical) reporters. One consequence, Pew found, was that in all the coverage of the character and records of the candidates, less that a quarter originated from traditional reporting activities, while more than half originated from claims by political partisans.
The good side of this trend is that groups and organizations with more specific interest and expertise, were using the Internet to provide coverage of topics that traditionally have not been a major component of traditional news products (for example, health, science, environment).
I'll try to get to take a look at the reports details in later posts. Meanwhile, you can grab the infographic at http://stateofthemedia.org/files/2013/03/2013-State-of-the-News-Media-Overview-Infographic.png
Source: The State of the News Media 2013, report from Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism