Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PEJ STUDY: The Changing Newsroom--What is Being Lost and What is being Gained in American Newspapers

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 21


Monday, July 21 — In the last three years, 85% of large daily newspapers and 52% of smaller ones have cut their staffs, according to a new comprehensive survey of editors released today. And that is only the beginning of how the American newspaper is shrinking. There are fewer pages, shorter stories, and notably fewer editors checking copy for errors. Most topics, not just foreign and national news, are getting less space and resources and are considered less important than three years ago. Stand alone business sections are disappearing. And just 5% of editors surveyed say they are very confident in their ability to envision how their newsroom will operate in five years, according to a study released today by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.


Despite the challenges, which have intensified significantly in just the last couple months, many editors remain optimistic about the future of their industry. More than 40% say the Internet could help journalism be better than ever before. They believe their new, young, tech-savvy staffs are infusing their newsrooms with a competitive energy. And, even with the bleak financial outlook of the newspaper business, 56% of managers believe their products are better today than three years ago.


These are some of the conclusions are drawn from a detailed survey of more than 250 editors and face to face interviews with executives from newspapers in 15 cities in four distinct regions of the country. This study, produced by journalist Tyler Marshall and the Project for Excellence in Journalism, is we believe the most comprehensive attempt yet to identify, amid bad news about the news business, what precisely is being lost, and what is being gained, in what citizens receive from American newspapers.


Read the full report


Among the report's major findings:


·       Nearly two-thirds of the papers surveyed for this study say they have reduced coverage on foreign news; more than half cover national news less; and over a third have trimmed business reporting.


·       The Internet is posing a challenge for newsroom managers. Fully 48% of those surveyed say the tension between the speed, depth and interactivity of the Web compared to the reduction in journalistic standards and accuracy is a concern.


·       Strong, investigative reporting is at the core of daily newspaper journalism, according to the editors surveyed—91% of all newsroom executives said they thought investigative journalism and enterprise reporting either "very essential" or "somewhat essential" to their newspapers' quality.


·       Loss of institutional memory was the number one concern among surveyed editors. Fully 41% offered comments about losing veteran staff, followed by 37% about the general loss of staff, and 6% were concerned about loss of space.


·       Even with these challenges, editors believe that their newspapers are improving—56% believe their product is better than three years ago.


As they consider the issues, editors use conflicting words like "nerve-wracking" and "exciting" to describe a business in transition. Despite financial worries, newsroom managers see an even better news product emerging in the future.

Contacts: Tom Rosenstiel or Amy Mitchell at 202-419-3650


No comments: