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State of the News Media 2007

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Inky_Wretch, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    The 160,000-word report by The Project for Excellence in Journalism is out...


    It's divided into more mangeable sections.
  2. brettwatson

    brettwatson Active Member

    Haven't read it but I'm guessing the news is not good.

    Is anyone else as sick of reading this shit as I am?

    I know lots of changes are coming (have already occurred) but for chrissakes, we've developed a pretty damn strong legacy as newsgatherers and that has to mean something, doesn't it.

    Mini rant over...carrry on.
  3. villageidiot

    villageidiot Member

    A fairly easy read.

    The intro to the newspaper section starts with these words:

    "Is the newspaper industry dying? Not now. On an average day, roughly 51 million people still buy a newspaper, and 124 million in all still read one."

    It ends with these:

    "More likely, the stage seems set in 2007 for more business turmoil, a negative industry image and further cuts in the newsroom’s capacity to do public-service reporting with distinction."

    Twenty-three percent of people said they don't read the newspaper because they don't have time. Ten percent said because it was inconvenient. Forty-nine percent said they turn to newspapers for local government news. Sports (13 percent) came in second to last on a list of nine categories. Only weather faired worse, with seven percent.

    So what say ye oh wise scribes of this holy forum of progressing misery? What are you gripes? What are your concerns?

  4. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Have your paper try a little control experiment. Take all the local government news out of the paper one day. The next day, take out the sports section. Assess reaction.
    Doesn't anyone get it by now? People are big liars on opinion polls. They cite what they think makes them sound good, not what they really do.
  5. MGoBlue

    MGoBlue Member

    Woooo, Michael.
    Reassess that statement.

    Taking out local gov news isn't the same as removing the sports section. Afterall, you are only removing the gov news, not the rest of local news.
    Wanna try an experiment? Take out local gov news and take out prep news. That would be a more fair arguement.

    Actually, what that little study tells me about sports news being second from bottom is this ... no one cares about the preps (outside of parents and a handful of die-hards). Preps are why I left sports. I just don't care how little Tommy or Betty Sue perform on a field.
  6. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    No, it's more what Michael said. People lie on polls. I know what I see.
  7. silvercharm

    silvercharm Member

    Here's my little unscientific anecdotal evidence about the popularity of sports: go into a coffee shop or a McDonald's where they have leftover newspapers. More often than not, you'll find many classified ad sections, the front page, the women's section, the local section, but NO SPORTS SECTION.
  8. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    At my first stop we moved the weather page, and even with weeks of hype announcing the move, the first day our phone system went down under the weight of outraged callers.

    People love weather. They're just ashamed to admit it.
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I think people lie on surveys, but in my experience the bigger problem is that, as far as sports content goes, they usually don't ask the most useful questions. We have a big problem in that we ask generic questions and arrive at generic solutions, when there is a lot of difference between Market A and Market B, not to mention Market C and Market D. So I would not use an industrywide study as a replacement for a survey of a specific market.

    Anyway, would a finding that few people read your sports section indicate a low interest in sports or that the sports section itself is not very good, leading people to look elsewhere? Ditto anything else.

    A couple years ago I spoke at a high school whose school newspaper wins national awards every year. The school has 400 students, 50 of them per year are either taking journalism or are working on the school paper (having already taken journalism). I asked one of the teachers whether she thought the kids arrived with a love of newspapers or were simply attracted to being part of a winning team, and the teacher said probably the latter. I think that to a point, there is an "if you build it, they will come" factor with our products, that the better we do something, the more interest there will be -- but this runs against current strategy of giving readers less.

    I really don't doubt that sports-section readership may be low in some places. We have really screwed up some sections to the point that they are useless to serious sports fans. This notion of "opening up the sports section to non-fans" is the most destructive, moronic idea that's ever come our way. We don't talk about opening up the business section to the unemployable, the food section to anorexics, the real estate section to the homeless. Also, this notion of local, local, local denies the enormous interest most fans have in national sports. Also, this idea of ceding news to the Internet makes us a supplemental read, rather than the primary source of information.

    So I don't know that we can say surveys tell us much about potential interest when we may have already taken a path that has turned off many people. The problem might not be the subject matter, it might be us. I think the lack of interest in local government news is due to us doing a shitty job with it. We've determined that covering those meetings in each town is boring and expensive, so we've replaced it with big-picture, regionwide stories. The problem with that is that broad stories are less specific and thus more generic -- and by nature less timely than telling people what happened at the school board last night. I think our basic flaw is that we have been blind to the fact that in many cases our solutions have made the situation worse. The answer isn't that we should kill local government stories but to do them better.
  10. MGoBlue

    MGoBlue Member


    Check next to the shitter. You'll find the section there.
  11. PHINJ

    PHINJ Active Member

    Frank, I have to respectfully disagree with you on one thing.

    The sports section better damn well be accessible to non-sports fans, because hardcore sports fans are, for the most part, getting most of their sports news from other sources.

    Your analogies on this are off-base, I think. I'm not sure about "the unemployable," but the business section of the paper should absolutely be interesting and useful to people who aren't CEOs or stockholders.
  12. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    In many homes, we are not even a supplemental read. Our papers aren't even in the home anymore. Mom and Dad don't read the paper. They wait until they get to the office to speed through the headlines on Google News. This is where our problem multiplies. We've lost Mom and Dad. But, now Johnny, Susie and Sammy grow up without a newspaper in their home.
    I've typed before: we're not losing readers, we're losing generations.
    We're losing them because we think we can trim local in favor of national, or national in favor of local. Or XGames in favor of tennis, or motor racing in favor of golf. The less sophisticated we are, the less we matter.
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