The State of the News Media

The Project for Excellence in Journalism is out with its annual “State of the News Media” report. It’s a treasure trove of data for media lovers so I encourage you to spend some time with the whole thing.

Some highlights:

  • The cable brands are a major force online, but their performance over the air does not translate into the same position on the Web. MSNBC, No. 3 in cable television news, is the leader online, followed by CNN (an average of 29.2 million visitors per month at MSNBC, according to Nielsen net ratings, and 29.1 million for CNN). Both are among the top four brands in news on the Internet (along with Yahoo and AOL). Fox is a good many spots behind (No 15, at eight million visitors monthly). …

    The traditional broadcast networks have not been able to translate their brands quite as effectively, although they too are important Web destinations. (NBC’s Web site, however, is MSNBC.com, a brand shared with its cable network but produced on the campus of Microsoft in Washington state. It has a collaborative but more limited connection to either the cable channel or network news division.) ABCNews.com is the No. 8 news Web site, with an average 10.6 million unique visitors each month in 2007, according to Nielsen Online. And CBSNews.com is No. 11 at 9.2 million.”

  • News is shifting from being a product — today’s newspaper, Web site or newscast — to becoming a service — how can you help me, even empower me? ”

  • As newspapers struggle with the future unknowns — audience base, delivery mechanism, revenue base and even reporting agenda — one thing is clear: In 2007, the print pages, and the print front-pages in particular, still provided information that was harder to find elsewhere. How, and if, that service translates to the Web or to the distribution of newsroom resources remains to be seen.”

  • After a decade of high hopes, there are increasing concerns about the Web’s ability to meet the news industry’s financial challenges.

    The number of people going online for news on a regular basis is rising.

    The audience for major news sites is also continuing to grow.

    For many of these bigger players, the watchwords increasingly appear to be assimilation, acquisition and partnership. In 2007, among other examples, MSNBC purchased community news aggregator Newsvine and ABC News allied with Facebook, just as Google had earlier bought YouTube, and News Corp. acquired MySpace.

    But there are also nuances and growing concerns. There has been little evidence that these new acquisitions and alliances have added much to the bottom line or justified their expense.”

  • “We may be witnessing in news magazines what we have seen in other industries such as automobiles: A world with more competitors, with different approaches and styles, creating a pie with more even-sized slices.”

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