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Report: Original reporting drops as agenda-driven news grows

March 18, 2013

As the news media’s reporting resources continue to dwindle, political figures, government agencies and companies are taking advantage of growing opportunities to send their messages directly to the public through social media.

According to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 “State of the News Media” report, these converging forces have left the media short-staffed and ill-equipped to uncover stories or question information, complicating the task of distinguishing between high-quality information of public value and agenda-driven news.

Reduced reporting power “may weaken both the industry’s capacity to produce in-depth journalism and its credibility with the public at the same time that others are gaining more voice,” said Amy Mitchell, acting director of the Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. During the 2012 presidential election, reporters acted more like megaphones than investigators of assertions put forward by the campaigns, the report found.

Nearly a third of the American public say they have stopped following a particular news outlet because it doesn’t provide the news that it used to, but 60 percent have heard little to nothing about the financial struggles that news organizations have faced as advertising revenue has shifted to the Internet.

Newspaper newsrooms were an estimated 30 percent smaller in 2012 compared to their peak in 2000, while local television — still a top news source for Americans — now offers shorter stories to smaller audiences. Local-TV coverage of government has been cut in half since 2005, with sports, weather and traffic now making up 40 percent of content.

On cable, coverage of live events fell by 30 percent from 2007 to 2012, as interview segments grew by 31 percent. Time, the only general-news print magazine left, announced layoffs of about 5 percent in early 2013. A growing number of media outlets, including Forbes magazine, now use computer algorithms to produce content without human reporting. — Greg Beaubien

View the Pew Research Center’s 2013 “State of the News Media” report here.


Shankar Chelluri says:

Am trying to work on a similar theme - Ethical Dimension of Communication: An Indian PR perspective. My paper will try to understand if the proliferation of media (newspaper/TV channel) over last 30 years (1980-2010) with changing ownership pattern (politicians, businessmen) & increasing advertising & marketing dollars are dictating news content & editorials. Against this background, if one takes into cognizance of the rising influence of social media networks where content & validation is not a pre-requisite unlike traditional media houses - impact on ethical dimension of communication is higher. While media freedom is paramount for democracy, do media houses need to introspect for editorial freedom, ethical dimension not getting shortchanged due to marketing/advertising dollars and increasing influence of social media. My research paper is for 23rd Annual AMIC Conference in Indonesia in July 2013 ( and submitting abstract for approval and then start working on full paper. The above has been helpful to get some insights into global perspectives and will go through PEW report in detail as well.

April 15, 2013

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