Every year, the American Project For Excellence in Journalism produces its annual survey of the state of the US News Media. It is essential and detailed reading for anyone concerned about the future of news. Not all trends from America sweep over us, but a lot have done already. This year’s report reads more optimistically than the shell-shocked 2006 survey which worried about the concentration of ownership and the decimation of editorial budgets. The 2007 report still has strong negatives such as the slowness of journalists to take up the opportunities for interactivity with their audiences. But overall there is a sense that while the business is in crisis it is fighting back. But above all the message for an industry reeling from the New Media revolution is that “the pace of change has quickened”.
Here’s some negatives that I think are probably true in the UK:
“Every media sector except for two is now losing popularity. Even the number of people who go online for news — or anything else — has stopped growing. Only the ethnic press is up”.
“Journalists have reacted relatively slowly. They are only now beginning to re-imagine their role. Their companies failed to see “search” as a kind of journalism. Their industry has spent comparatively little on R&D. They have been tentative about pressing for new economic models, and that has left them fearful and defensive.”
THe good news for the hacks is this:
“traditional journalism is not, as some suggest, becoming irrelevant. There is more evidence now that new technology companies have had either limited success in news gathering (Yahoo, AOL), or have avoided it altogether (Google). Whoever owns them, old newsrooms now seem more likely than a few years ago to be the foundations for the newsrooms of the future”