The Pew Research Center released its State of the News Media 2014 report yesterday, unleashing a barrage of data regarding the condition of the U.S. media machine in areas such as audience, economics, news investment and ownership.
We’ve broken down some of the most interesting findings below:
While full-time newsroom jobs at U.S. newspapers fell by 2,600 in 2012 (the most recent year figures are available), one key highlight from 2013 was the growth of editorial positions at digital news outlets such as Buzzfeed (added 170 last year), Gawker (whose staff swelled to around 130), Mashable (which hired former New York Times editor Jim Roberts), and Yahoo (which hired several journalists from the NYT).
Staffing levels at local TV stations were classified as “stable”.
Sales of local U.S. television stations jumped a staggering 205 per cent year-over-year in 2013, with the total value of these transactions sitting at $8.8 billion (a 367-per-cent jump from 2012). Sinclair Broadcast Group was the biggest buyer, snapping up 63 stations and bringing its total roster to 167 TV stations in 77 markets.
The value of local TV acquisitions in the U.S. in 2013 was the largest since 2006, when nearly $20 billion in transactions took place.
Maybe the most significant development on the newspaper side is that the Newspaper Association of America has ceased publishing its quarterly reports on ad revenue (it will release a full-year report within the next few weeks). The most recent figures available, from 2012, aren’t encouraging: Ad revenue dropped 52 per cent from 2003 to 2012, to $22 billion.
According to the Pew report, publishing leviathan Gannett reported a six-per-cent decline in ad revenues in 2013.
The U.S. cable network audience between the big three channels MSNBC, CNN and Fox News dropped a combined 11 per cent to around 3 million. MSNBC suffered the biggest drop, hemorrhaging 24-per-cent of its prime-time audience in just one year.
Many of those viewers could have shifted preferences to local TV, which saw an overall increase in viewership across the board in 2013 (after years of declines). Local morning news viewership was up 6.3 per cent, and network news program viewership (at big networks like ABC, CBS and NBC) was also up slightly.
Growth was also identified in the realm of online radio. According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who listen to online radio in their cars jumped to 21 per cent (compared to 17 per cent in 2012).
Finally, digital native outlets continued to see success from an audience perspective, with sites like Buzzfeed drawing numbers comparable to well-established, legacy news sites such as the Washington Post.