Reading the 2018 Pew Research Center’s “State of News Media” allowed me to put my previous assumptions about the current successes and failures of different forms of media aside to instead look at the facts, numbers and trends involving the U.S. news media industry. But my assumptions about the success of podcasts was correct after reading the report.
Before reading the report, I assumed that podcasts were doing really well in terms of having a large audience and a lot of revenue. As a journalism major, I have recently heard my peers talk a lot about their favorite podcasts. And as a reporter at The State News — MSU’s independent student newspaper — I am a member of a newsroom trying to produce and release several different podcast shows, including one that is similar to NPR’s “Up First” podcast. We have new podcast equipment and a new mentor who has helped reporters and editors outline different podcast ideas and goals for this semester. Since this is a very new thing to me and to the newsroom, I have already experienced first hand how the trends talked about in the Pew Research Center report have influenced newsrooms and how people consume their news.
The report said that the percentage of podcast listeners in America has substantially increased over the last decade. In 2018, 44 percent of Americans 12 and older said they never listened to a podcast, and 26 percent said they have listened to a podcast in the past month, which is up from 9 percent in 2008. I think that this increase is very notable, especially considering the other forms of media mentioned and outlined in the report. It was really interesting to see how people get their news and consume different media outlets’ information.
As someone who is interested in going into print media, the report’s section about newspapers was also one that I paid close attention to. I always get concerned when it’s announced that a local paper is undergoing budget cuts and reporters are being laid off—the report explicitly said newspapers have been hit hard since more consumers have looked to consuming news digitally.
The report also said the newspaper industry’s financial fortunes and subscribers have been down since early 2000s and that declines were the highest in print circulation. Although the numbers looked discouraging, I think since many are consuming their news digitally—the report said about 93 percent of adults get at least some of their news online—newspapers have started to focus more on publishing stories on their websites and socialing their stories out on social media.
I think consumers still read the same stories that would be in print editions. The report said that The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have seen “large gains in digital circulation in the past year,” a 42 percent increase for The New York Times and a 26 percent increase for The Wall Street Journal in 2016.