Pew: Newspapers circulation down, Television

By Liam Tiernan

The Pew Research Center’s Journalism and Media sector identified a 7 percent fall in newspaper circulation and a 5 percent loss in late night viewership in local news programs. Online subscription revenues have failed to pick up the slack for most newspapers, and advertising revenues fell 8 percent. It was the worst year for newspapers since the recession.


Newspaper newsrooms have seen the effects of the fiscal downturns, with newsroom employment figures down 10% from 2014 figures, leaving the workforce 20,000 positions smaller.

Newspapers are optimistic about a dedicated core readership that will keep them afloat, but Pew Research Center polls found that only 5 percent of U.S. adults named newspapers the “Most helpful” source in learning about the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Despite a drastic increase in digital news revenues, television news sources still see steady growth. Network news stations saw ad revenues increase six percent in the evenings and 14 percent in the mornings. Total cable news revenues increased by 10 percent in total. Even local revenues saw increase despite decreases in viewership, and retransmission revenues are expected to hit five times that of 2010.

Television news sources may have a short time to stay n top, however. Pew Research Center data suggests that one in seven Americans has “Pulled the plug” on their television providers, and 62 percent of adults get news from social media sites.

Digital Ad revenues have been growing faster than ever-just not for journalists. 65 percent of those revenues were swallowed up by five tech companies, none of which were news services.

These tech companies are the lifelines for the news industry as journalists attempt to stay relevant in the digital world. Digital companies provide ways for journalists to publish their work in relevant online places, and others employ journalists, with about 75 editors working at the messaging app Snapchat.

Some newsrooms are stepping up to the digital plate themselves with new, innovative ideas. The New York Times and The Des Moines Register are both experimenting with virtual reality, allowing viewers to experience the news themselves. Some publications, like ProPublica, simply launched into the world of big data.

It’s an ever changing world, and the best anybody can do is try to keep on top of it. The practical application of journalism skills to a digital format is an ever changing art, with no real standard set yet. It’s raising a lot of interesting questions, such as the legitimacy of online publications and news on social media. It’s inevitable that it’s all going that way, but for now, it’s interesting that television is still the king of journalism revenue. There is still a loyal constituency there that hasn’t given in to the pull of digital news.

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