Years of newsroom cutbacks have had a demonstrable impact on the quality of digital, newspaper and television news and in how consumers view that work, a study released Monday found.
Nearly one-third of consumers surveyed by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism said they have abandoned a news outlet because it no longer gave them what they had counted on, either with fewer or less-complete stories.
Pew’s annual State of the News Media report delivered what has become a common litany of grim business statistics. Television news viewership is down. Newsroom employment at newspapers is down 30 percent since a peak in 2000 and has gone below 40,000 people for the first time since 1978. Newsweek shut its print edition, and Time magazine is cutting staff.
“These cutbacks are real,” said Amy Mitchell, the project’s acting director. “And based on the data that we’ve collected, they are having an effect.”
Government coverage on local television news has been cut in half since 2005, the study said. Sports, weather and traffic now account for 40 percent of the content on these broadcasts; yet that’s just the sort of information readily available elsewhere. That’s a recipe for future erosion, Mitchell said.
Forty-two percent of adults under age 30 counted themselves as regular local news viewers in 2006; last year, that was down to 28 percent, the study found.
Cable news is increasingly cable talk, although it’s difficult to conclude whether that is because of financial considerations or the sense among executives of what viewers want. Over the past five years, CNN has sharply cut back on produced story packages and live event coverage, the study found.