The American News Media is at its strongest. Is that good news?

 

Quick question: have you ever heard something similar to “The News industry is dying,” “There’s no money in writing” or any of the ramblings from this guy on his blog? (Try saying the first two in a voice like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NelBNtNm8l0).

Well, it’s wrong.

Despite the Pew Research Center’s State of the Media report released recently, news production and distribution is at an all-time high. The report, which indicates that the number of news reporting resources is eroding since its peak in 2000, notes that these industries have reached an all-time low in full-time reporters that hasn’t been seen since 1978. This information, the “stuff” that people are referencing when they say that a career in news reporting isn’t going to be optimal, has been reported heavily since the recession of 2008.

But as Slate.com’s article suggests, the report doesn’t stress the growing number of resources producing information. While it’s true there are fewer paid reporters since the late 20th century, there has never been a time with more information being produced. I don’t need to badger you about how easy it is to record something, post it on a website and Tweet about it to anyone who wants to read it. Hell, I don’t even have to leave my couch to purchase information, when I can sit on a computer reading an article from the New York Times on the Supreme Court’s decision on Proposal 8 while watching coverage of it on CNN at the same time. The rise of blogging and YouTube into profitable businesses means that anyone can be paid for distributing the news now.

Yet if that’s the case, why isn’t the industry as profitable? Well, consider the way these resources make money.

As is the case for both print and online mediums, money from advertisers is the primary method for funding. Some have a subscriber base (most notably print magazines ro newspapers), but the bulk are those annoying advertisements on the side of your screen. But before an advertiser throws money as these resources, they first consider how big of an audience they will reach — who is reading the news on this website regularly?

There are so many places to get your news that its nearly saturating the market for it. Granted, there are plenty of advertisers willing to shell out the dough, but they can’t all keep up. News resources must continue to push for new readers to draw in these advertisers, stand out to attract these new readers and advertise their own product, otherwise they’re working for next to nothing.

Furthermore, this forces many sources to specify their audiences, rather than diversifying it and reporting for a large body of people. Interested in the latest news on European Urology? Apparently there’s a magazine for that. Now, we risk making large profits for the off chance someone wants to read our product.

Media industries have always adapted. Newspapers survived the rise of radio, and radio survived the rise of TV, and TV is surviving the rise of the internet. So no, the news content is not dying, but quite the contrary, it’s thriving. And no, not all news companies are losing money, there are still plenty of them willing to pay for advertising — check something as small as The Daily and see for yourself.

There are still plenty of companies profiting off of the news and the people who dedicate their lives to it (Journalists, like myself, rejoice).

The problem is that there are just so many of us.

One thought to “The American News Media is at its strongest. Is that good news?”

  1. I enjoyed your post. It’s thought-provoking, for me at least, as I’m a fellow journalist. Have you seen that documentary called “Page One?” It’s about the New York Times and how they’re adapting to the changing times, as we move to digital platforms of journalism. It’s on Netflix, and it’s extremely captivating for people like us.

    I think we’re lucky, actually, to have grown up with Twitter, Facebook, and the Internet in full force. I mean, my mom worked as a typist for years and I’m pretty sure I can beat top her in words-per-minute, simply because I had my own laptop in 6th grade. With this cultivated, and now innate, aspect of what we bring to the table, we’re attractive candidates.

    This summer I’m working for a company called Patch.com, which offers online local news source across the country for smaller communities. I’m doing breaking news, and their main focus this summer is for us young interns to really help the “older” editors to use videos and photos to say more than words, because that’s what people like these days: Who wants to read a five-hundred word article about what happened when they can read a thirty-word caption to a video?

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