Pew: Newspapers Circling The Wagons

    July 21, 2008

The newspaper industry is at a crossroads, and a fresh report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism confirms this beyond all doubt.  What’s interesting is that industry experts have a hard time agreeing on whether the intersection is good or bad, and whether to praise or blame the Internet’s role in shaping it.

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 Newspapers Stressing The Local
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Even though 85 percent of daily papers made layoffs within the last three years, a full 43 percent of editors believe "web technology offers the potential for greater-than-ever journalism and will be the savior of what we once thought of as newspaper newsrooms," according to the report‘s introduction.

Here’s another pair of conflicting stats: more than half of the study’s 259 participating newspapers cut back on foreign and national coverage, but 56 percent of editors feel they’re putting out better products now than three years ago.

And finally, only five percent of newsroom executives "said they were very confident of their ability to predict what their newsrooms would look like five years from now."

Look for more attempts at monetizing online content as newspapers try to figure out some way to survive.  The recession may speed up their timetables, too, if people decide getting gas and food is more important than receiving a daily, dead-tree update.