The greatest challenge for both newspapers and broadcast networks is the growing power of the Internet as a news distribution platform. This new way of gathering news, also referred to as “info snacking,” is pulling consumers and advertisers away from more traditional media. With these changing times, new audiences, pressures for profits, and the Internet’s disruption of media’s mainstream business model, will anyone be able to predict the future of news and in-depth reporting?
A recent four-part series produced by FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman gives us a better understanding of what’s happening to the news industry.
Go straight to this topic. Jump to Part III, chapters 16 thru 25.
Here’s a few things you will learn in this FRONTLINE special report:
Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes, talks about CBS’s partnership with Yahoo! News. “We haven’t seen the model for how broadcast journalism is going to end up on the Internet,” he says. “But … it has to go there. I mean, you don’t see anybody between 20 and 30 getting their news from the evening news; you see them getting it online.”
Internet news providers like Yahoo! and Google say that they are not in the business of creating content, relying instead on traditional news-gathering organizations. “We’re in fact critically dependent upon the success of these newspapers,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, referring to the Los Angeles Times and others. “We don’t write the content. We’re not in the content business. So anything that screws up their economics, that causes them to get rid of reporters, is a really bad thing.”
The struggle for large daily metropolitan newspapers to stay profitable and survive is based on the race between the drop in their print advertising and the improvement of their online sales. Newspaper industry costs are rising along with fuel and commodities prices. Most large dailies have resorted to lay-offs. Even The New York Times and Washington Post are cutting staff, including reporters and editors.
Revenue is falling sharply based on a review of the numbers from publicly traded newspaper companies. The sole exception may be The New York Times Company, where online revenue is now well over 10% of the total. In April, NYT online ad revenue rose almost 26%. The company claims its collection of web properties had the 11th largest number of online visitors in America, with over 49 million unique visitors in April. Gannett’s sites rank in 36th place with 23 million unique visitors, but most newspaper companies are not as lucky. Even The Washington Post was only able to generate $27 million in online revenue in the first quarter. This was a very modest increase of 8% over the same period the year before. This revenue compares to $206 million in total sales for the newspaper division during this period. That spells trouble, no matter how Wall St. looks at it.
Read more about the current situation with newspaper websites.
The Newspapers: Rating The Top 25 Newspaper Websites.
By 24/7 Wall Street, June 03, 2008.