George Le Masurier: Research fuels optimism about journalism

glemasurier@theolympian.comMarch 30, 2014 

The Pew Research Center’s 11th annual State of the Media report released last week confirmed what journalists have always believed: the American public has a growing and nearly insatiable demand for news. But how people are choosing to consume that news has shifted dramatically.

The core product of newspapers – and to a lesser extent television and radio stations – has always been and will always be our journalism. News is why people buy and read newspapers, or tune in to broadcast news programs.

We used to deliver our journalism through one channel only: the printed newspaper. Today, we deliver our reporting and photography to consumers through our website and to their smartphones or tablets. We have mobile apps, even for specialty topics, such as Capital Update that covers state government in depth.

We blast out email newsletters. We upload online news videos. We post breaking news updates and links to other content on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

This explosion of new methods for us to deliver and for you to consume journalism has, in the words of Pew researchers, “Created a new sense of optimism – or even hope – for the future of American journalism.”

You can read the full report on the Pew website, but here are a few of the headlines that caught my attention:

 • Newspapers still employ the largest group of journalists – about 38,000 – reporting news today.

 • New money has fueled creation of 500 digital news outlets that have created 5,000 full-time journalism jobs, helping to replace the 16,200 newspaper editorial jobs lost from 2003-2012.

 • BuzzFeed, once regarded as “click bait” or merely links to other online sites, now employs a news staff of 170, including at least one Pulitzer Prize-winning former newspaper journalist.

 • About 25 percent of television stations don’t produce content for their own newscasts. This may be a result of some 300 stations changing hands in 2013, with big owners getting bigger.

 • One-third of adults watch online news videos, and advertising revenue around them grew by 44 percent. High quality video capability on smartphones has enabled people to upload their own videos of news events.

 • Thirty percent say they get their news from Facebook, primarily entertainment news. And 78 percent say reading news on Facebook was an “incidental experience,” while they were cruising the site for other reasons.

 • Start-up digital news outlets like The Huffington Post and Vice Media are filling a vacuum in international reporting. Newspapers have cut foreign bureaus by 25 percent from 2003-2010, and television has cut airtime given to overseas coverage by more than half.

 • American media companies have launched a number of ventures aimed at the growing Hispanic demographic. The U.S. Latino population has grown 50 percent from 2000-2012, and most of it from births within U.S. borders – creating new generations of English-speaking Latinos identifying as Americans.

The research is a fascinating read for those interested in the rapidly changing news media landscape. You can find the full report here: journalism.org/packages/state-of-the-news-media-2014.

RULES FOR AGING

Many of you will remember reading Roger Rosenblatt’s columns in Time magazine. Perhaps you enjoyed his stylish writing as much as I did. A recent blog post by my friend and well-known Seattle lawyer Paul Luvera reminded me of Rosenblatt’s “Rules for Aging,” which was once a bestselling book.

Here are a few from the summary Luvera posted:

 • “It doesn’t matter – Whatever you think matters, really doesn’t matter.

 • Yes, you did – If you have the slightest question as to whether you are responsible for a wrongdoing, you are. Come to this conclusion early and fix it.

 • Nobody is thinking about you – I promise you, nobody is thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves.

 • Don’t envy anyone, ever – The secret is to recognize how blessed you are and to realize we never can know what crosses people are carrying.”

George Le Masurier may be reached at glemasurier@theolympian.com.

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