What's behind the decline in TV viewership and newspaper magazine circulation? Find out.
Digital news sites are capturing an increased share of both advertising revenue and audience, according to an annual report on the state of American journalism released today by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The growing popularity of mobile technologies and a growing dissatisfaction with traditional news outlets appear to be driving the trend.
In a related consumer shift, e-commerce is capturing a growing share of retail sales.
Total traffic to the top 25 digital news sites grew 7.2 percent in 2012, according to Pew, and two-in-four consumers were likely to access the news via a smartphone or tablet. Tablets are now owned by 31 percent of U.S. adults, and roughly 45 percent own smartphones. Pew research indicates that more than 60 percent of both groups use their mobile devices to access the news.
Smartphone users also want greater mobile access to financial services.
Over the same time period traditional news media saw flat to declining audiences and circulation, Pew said. The cable TV audience rose 0.8 percent, while the audience for network TV fell 1.9 percent and local TV, 6.5 percent, and radio, 0.1 percent. Magazine circulation fell 0.1 percent, while newspapers saw circulation fall by 0.2 percent.
Advertisers appear to be following consumers to digital sites. Digital advertising grew 17 percent in 2012, and now accounts for 23 percent of the total U.S. advertising market, up from 20 percent in 2011, according to Pew. Traditional print media saw declining revenue, down 5.9 percent for newspapers and 10.4 percent for magazines in 2012. Election-year advertising help boost radio advertising by 1 percent, and revenue at local television stations by 10.1 percent. Cable TV revenue rose by 5.4 percent.
Shrinking budgets have affected staffing and initiatives at many media outlets - and the public is noticing a change. Employment at U.S. magazines fell 4 percent in 2012, and, at the end of 2011, employment at newspapers was 24 percent below its peak of 56,900 for 1989. More than 30 percent of U.S. adults surveyed by Pew indicated they have stopped using a news outlet because its content has deteriorated. More than 60 percent said they noticed the stories were less complete than they used to be and 24 percent said there were fewer stories over all.
“Controlling costs, while trying to minimize damage to news reporting and other essential functions, remained a critical component of managing newspapers for profitability in 2012,” said Pew in The State of the News Media 2013 report.