RealClearPolitics Media Watch

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The Sorry State of the Media

Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual "State of the Media" report for 2009 today. In it, of course there's much gloom and doom for an industry that's had a difficult year, particularly newspapers and magazines, which were the hardest hit by the recession.

One sector that's not only escaped the financial downturn unscathed but also managed some growth is cable television. Audience for cable was up 38% in 2008 than from the previous year and the industry, with a model based on both subscriber fee and advertising, is proving to be highly profitable.

On the other hand, local television news is getting hammered as much as newspapers and magazines are. In an election and Olympic year, when advertising revenues and audience typically spike, there was actually a 7% and 4.5% decline, respectively.

And everywhere else, it's bad news, including for online media, where advertising growth has come to a screeching halt. Advertising revenue is down for every part of the media industry, except cable TV. The worst hit is the newspaper business, where ad revenue declined by over 10% in 2008.

The gloom-and-doom report summed everything up with the pronouncement that there is no magic bullet to cure all that's ailing the media. Time magazine's M.J. Stephey summarizes it as such: "(I)f the solutions aren't obvious, the report's overall message is: Will the future leaders of journalism please, please stand up?"

Click here if you want to print out the entire report.