US news outlets losing readers and business

Washington, April 9 (IANS) Nearly a third of US adults – about 31 percent – have stopped turning to a traditional news outlet in favour of new media because these no longer provides them with the news they were accustomed to getting, according to a new US media survey.

“Men have left at somewhat higher rates than women, as have the more highly educated and higher-income earners”, according to The State of the News Media 2013 – An Annual Report on American Journalism by Pew Research Centre.

Many of those were earlier among the heavier news consumers according to past Pew Research data, the report noted, concluding that “the effects of a decade of newsroom cutbacks are real – and the public is taking notice.”

Identifying six major trends of the year, the survey noted that “with reporting resources cut to the bone and fewer specialized beats, journalists’ level of expertise in any one area and the ability to go deep into a story are compromised.”

“Overall, awareness of the industry’s financial struggles is limited,” the survey said noting, “Only 39 percent have heard a lot or some. But those with greater awareness are also more likely to be the ones who have abandoned a news outlet.”

The news industry continues to lose out on the bulk of new digital advertising, the survey said noting over all, mobile advertising grew 80 percent in 2012 to $2.6 billion.

“Improved geo-targeting is allowing many national advertisers to turn to Google, Facebook and other large networks to buy ads that once might have gone to local media,” the report said. “In addition, Google and Facebook are also improving their ability to sell ad space to smaller, truly local, advertisers, again taking business that once went to local media,” it said.

“It is hard to see how news organizations will secure anything like their traditional share. Google is now the ad leader in search, display and mobile,” the report said noting “Once again, in key revenue areas, it appears the news industry may have been outflanked by technology giants.”

The long-dormant sponsorship ad category is seeing sharp growth, the report said. “Though it remains small in dollars, the category’s growth rate is second only to that of video. Sponsorship ads rose 38.9 percent, to $1.56 billion; that followed a jump of 56.1 percent in 2011.”

“After years of an almost theological debate about whether digital content should be free, the newspaper industry may have reached a tipping point in 2012,” the report noted.

“Indeed, 450 of the nation’s 1,380 dailies have started or announced plans for some kind of paid content subscription or pay wall plan, in many cases opting for the metered model that allows a certain number of free visits before requiring users to pay.

“While the first and hardest-hit industry, newspapers, remains in the spotlight, local TV finds itself newly vulnerable,” the report said noting local TV audiences were down across every key time slot and across all networks in 2012.

“While local TV remains a top news source for Americans, the percentage is dropping – and dropping sharply among younger generations.” The report said.

“Regular local TV viewership among adults under 30 fell from 42 percent in 2006 to just 28 percent in 2012,” according to Pew Research survey data.

“In general, listening to content seems to be as popular as ever and accessible in more formats than ever,” the report said. “But the data suggest that in the broader array of audio platforms news is becoming a smaller piece of the pie.”

The number of cellphone owners streaming content into their cars from their phones has nearly tripled in three years, the report noted. Public radio also is undergoing transition as more people adopt mobile technologies.

All of the major news magazines saw declining audiences in 2012, the report noted. “According to the Alliance for Audited Media, sales of newsstand copies, the measure most accepted by the industry, plummeted 16 percent on average for the news magazines, roughly two times the 8.2 percent decline in newsstand sales that the magazine industry suffered over all.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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