Friday, March 17, 2006

The State of the News Media 2006

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2006 at 4:38 PM

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its State of the News Media 2006 report, and boy, does it have a lot to say.

Here are a few of the general statements:

Blogs: "But contrary to the charge that the blogosphere is purely parasitic, we also found new topics here, and new angles on old ones. Indeed, the blogs were generally less concerned than many traditional journalists with the latest breaking news, and more focused on long-term issues. Yet there was little here that a journalist would call reporting or even sourcing. Only 1% of the posts this day involved a blogger doing an interview, and only another 5% involved some other kind of original research, such as examining documents....It is not citizen journalism in any traditional sense, but something closer to stylized citizen media forum, often with an insider's tone and its own nomenclature."

Cable news: "The reporting, perhaps because of the time to fill rather than despite it, was shallower by our indicators of any national media studied."

Network TV: "The contrast between the network nightly and morning news is so striking that the term network TV news almost seems a misnomer. It makes more sense to talk about nightly news versus morning. The three evening newscasts were virtually identical to each other and very different form their network siblings in the morning."

Newspapers: "This is the medium that is covering the most topics, has the deepest sourcing, explored the most angles in stories and for now is supplying most of the content for the Internet...Looming, as readers inevitably shift to acquiring their news online, is the question of what happens to the more complete reporting that additional time affords. And how many boots will be left on the ground if the print editions that pay the bills continue to shrink."

Local TV: "...focused on what news managers apparently thought people could use, traffic and weather, and what they were worried about, accidents and crime...on average, local TV news stories had the shallowest sourcing and explored the fewest angles of events covered of any medium studied except local radio."

The most interesting part of the Project for Excellence's report happens to be a survey, termed A Day in the Life of the News, of all news coverage that occurred on one specific day ֠May 11, 2005 ֠designed to present a stand-alone picture of the American news media. My favorite part of the coverage is the description of how Internet news sites deal with breaking news. CNN updates a couple times, posts a story, and "Google, for some reason, would be featuring the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's account."

Oh man, is that true. Every time I search for an article on Google, I get some obscure news agency or periodical. The articles are usually worthwhile, but if I send the link to friends, I always get a couple replies along the lines of, "And what were you doing reading the Beijing Sentinel?" I usually make up some lie like, "Well, I work at a newspaper. I like to stay informed." But really, it was Google all along.

Nashville bloggers got a shout-out in the report: "As for the denizens of the blogosphere, the transitory nature of the plane scare made it even less significant a topic. Here the subjects ranged from a blogger convention in Nashville (Instapundit)..."

Also, I highly approve of the fact that A Day in the Life of the News ends with The Daily Show.

My own opinion, and I know you really care to hear it, is that this report is spot on. I rarely watch television news because it kills my brain cells for reasons outlined in the report. I get all of my information from daily newspapers' websites, as well as physical copies of alt. weeklies and magazines. And of course, I end my night with The Daily Show. But I am only one specific kind of media consumer, and I know a lot of people have routines that differ from mine. Some people swear by Brian Williams. Some people prefer talk radio. Some go to the blogs.

Blogs, I've found, are a little too narcissistic for me, frequently writing about themselves and what it means to be a blog. That annoys me, much in the way that I am annoyed when people talk about what it is like to "Be a Woman." You know, in the "I'm a Goddess, you're a Goddess" sense. But there are a number of good blogs out there, and the best blog entry is as good as or better than any op-ed piece you can read in paper. I realize that writing on a blog about how I sometimes don't like blogs is sort of counter-productive, so if you feel hurt by this opinion, just assume that your blog is my favorite and I read it every day. Also, you might want to start calling yourself Dooce.


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