Is Fox the Future of News?

Cable news only media sector not to suffer declines last year

Last Updated: March 15, 2010 @ 1:29 PM

The media industry — at least the media industry as we’ve known it — is, well, kinda [insert favorite past tense expletive here].

That’s the gist of the annual State of the Media report issued by the Project for Excellence in Journalism on Sunday.

If you’re a member of the media industry, the whole thing is worth reading. For now, some highlights:

There is “growing evidence” that conventional online advertising will never sustain the industry.” For traditional or downsizing media companies, this is not good, and will likely mean more layoffs, even as advertising begins to come back.

>> Ad revenue was down almost across the board. "Local television ad revenue fell 22 percent in 2009; triple the decline the year before. Radio also was off 22 percent. Magazine ad revenue dropped 17 percent, network TV 8 percent (and news alone probably more). Online ad revenue over all fell about 5 percent, and revenue to news sites most likely also fared much worse."

>> Only cable news among the commercial news sectors did not suffer declining revenue last year.

There is plenty of exciting, non-traditional (i.e. digital) ideas in news media bubbling up. But “unless some system of financing the production of content is developed, it is difficult to see how  reportorial journalism will not continue to shrink, regardless of the potential tools offered by technology. And as we enter 2010 there is little evidence that journalism online has found a sustaining revenue model.” Translation: there’s some hope, but not the kind that most large media companies are looking for.

>> “For the third consecutive year, only digital and cable news saw audiences grow among the key sectors that deliver news. In cable in 2009, those gains were largely captured by one network, Fox, though during the day, a breaking-news time, CNN also gained viewers.”

>> Americans are a tad schizophrenic in their news consumption. “People are increasingly ‘on demand’ consumers, seeking platforms where they can get the news they want when they want it from a variety of sources rather than have to come at appointed times and to one news organization.”

>> According to a new survey, just 21 percent say rely primarily on one destination for news online – and only a third “even say they have a favorite website.”

>> But they’re somehow agoraphobic, too. Most people “range from using two –to five websites, and only 12 percent use more than six.”

More to read:

The State of the News Media 2010