Thursday, March 16, 2006

Media is booted and on-line time exceeds TV

Newspaper audiences may be growing online, but Web sites don't deliver the kind of revenue that can support large staffs of editors, reporters and photographers, reports TMCNet today.

Using figures drawn from a new study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism describing what it calls a "seismic transformation" in the media landscape, it argues that declining print circulation -- down another 3 percent last year in the USA -- could have major consequences. The industry has lost more than 3,500 newsroom professionals since 2000, a drop of 7 percent. The Washington Post said last week it would seek to cut 80 newsroom jobs through voluntary redundancies, the second such offer in just over two years.

The papers have plenty of company. Circulation declined last year at the big three news magazines. Network evening news ratings dropped 6 percent and morning show ratings 4 percent. The number of network correspondents is one-third lower than it was in the mid-1980s.

Early-evening news ratings for local TV were down 13 percent, the project says. And 60 percent of the local TV newscasts studied by the group -- once traffic, weather and sports are excluded -- consisted of crime and accident stories. What's more, the proportion of stories presented by reporters dropped from 62 percent to 43 percent between 1998 and 2002, leaving these programs increasingly driven by anchors.

The growth has been among outlets such as Google News and Yahoo, which aggregate content from other sources; blogs, on which, apparently, only 5 percent of posts involved original research; and satellite radio, which serves up news, talk, entertainment and music but little or no original reporting.

Another report in the UK this week has noted that people are now spending more time online than watching TV.

In addition, not to miss the audiences, TV is rushing to get on-line fast.

I have doubts about such services as subscription services.

Picture: How did broadcasting begin from the BBC