State of the Media

After reading the Pew Research Center’s findings on the State of the News Media 2012, I found it curious that audiences for local television grew this year – the first growth in five years. The shift is great, especially in election season (and perhaps that’s why there was a growth) because so many of the local seats up for grabs do preciously matter in the grander scheme of electoral votes and who becomes America’s next president. However, could the growth also point to a disappointment among viewers in traditional broadcast news networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) that basically fight with one another to cover the same exact story? Does local news offer more information because it has fewer competitors and thus is more inclined to cover what is happening (re. Pat Kiernan’s comments to New York Magazine on the benefits of NY1) rather than what might captivate someone flipping through channels?

Call me a Luddite, I’m not, but I resist the growing trend toward mobile news experiences. 27% of the population gets news via a phone, but I doubt their short attention spans (re. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows) plus the incredibly small screens will actually promote the reading of lengthy articles. Mobile devices are great for headlines – but not for in depth reading, and I’m weary about a dependence on them. However, it is fantastic that mobile devices are helping certain minority groups receive news – but is it comprehensive news?

I was not surprised that social media is not entirely a driving force for news yet. I think Facebook and Twitter, while powerful sources, are still based on socializing rather than informing. Plus, the weird algorithms used to feed statuses and what not into news feeds don’t necessarily show us what we “should” see.

No shock that newspapers dropped – the JRC article we read hones in on that – but I was pleased to see small growth in The Economist and The Week. Could that be a sign that people are not feeling fully informed by short online articles, or half-hour TV segments? Why only these two magazines though? What do The Economist/The Week offer that Newsweek does not?  Do they support both the online web surfing mentality (The Week) and lengthened explanation on fiscal matters?




  1. I find that Newsweek and Time have fallen into a gray area between news tabloids and celebrity gossip magazines. Neither magazine maintains a particular identity for too long. And both, lets face it, are absolutely boring. That said, I would rather read a news tabloid or a celebrity gossip magazine, or a magazine like the Economist, because at least those have an identity that doesn’t fluctuate weekly.

  2. I very much agree with the observation that mobile devices, particularly phones, naturally lead to a shallower level of content consumption than paper-based media. There’s something about seeing the remaining unread news article in front of me that naturally draws me to read –or at least skim – down to the end. I don’t feel that same sense of unfinished business when prompted to go to the next page of digital article.

    The other effect of digital -vs – paper is what I might call unplanned diversity of consumption. As opposed to a web-based news experience, where what appears on one’s screen can be pre-selected to some extent, reading a newspaper or magazine requires the eye to pass over headlines from articles the reader never planned to look at when he or she picked up the physical object. I’d have to say that a good deal of what I know about the world comes from articles I never would have considered looking for, but just happened to see while on the way to the sports pages.

    Tim C

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Benjamin A Simon Election 2012 Blog

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