State of the News Media: Data and Trends about Key Sectors in the U.S. News Media Industry

State of the News Media: Data and Trends about Key Sectors in the U.S. News Media Industry. Pew Research Center. June 1, 2017.

Since 2004, Pew Research Center has issued an annual report on key audience and economic indicators for a variety of sectors within the U.S. news media industry. These data speak to the shifting ways in which Americans seek out news and information, how news organizations get their revenue, and the resources available to American journalists as they seek to inform the public about important events of the day. The press is sometimes called the fourth branch of government, but in the U.S., it’s also very much a business – one whose ability to serve the public is dependent on its ability to attract eyeballs and dollars.

Over the years, the Center’s approach to these indicators has evolved along with the industry, carefully considering the metrics, sectors and format in which the data appear. This year, instead of a single summary report, a series of fact sheets showcasing the most important current and historical data points for each sector – in an easy-to-digest format – will be rolled out a few at a time over the coming months. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Searching for News: The Flint Water Crisis

Searching for News: The Flint Water Crisis. Pew Research Center. Katerina Eva Matsa, Amy Mitchell and Galen Stocking. April 27, 2017.

During the long saga of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan – an ongoing, multilayered disaster that exposed about 100,000 residents to harmful contaminants and lead and left them even as of early 2017 advised to drink filtered or bottled water – local and regional audiences used online search engines as a way to both follow the news and understand its impact on public and personal health.

A new Pew Research Center study, based on anonymized Google search data from Jan. 5, 2014, through July 2, 2016, delves into the kinds of searches that were most prevalent as a proxy for public interest, concerns and intentions. The study also tracks the way search activity ebbed and flowed alongside real world events and their associated news coverage. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Federal Funding And Issues

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Federal Funding And Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Glenn J. McLoughlin, Lena A. Gomez. April 4, 2017

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) receives its funding through federal appropriations; overall, about 15% of public television and 10% of radio broadcasting funding comes from the federal appropriations that CPB distributes. CPB’s appropriation is allocated through a distribution formula established in its authorizing legislation and has historically received two-year advanced appropriations. Congressional policymakers are increasingly interested in the federal role in supporting CPB due to concerns over the federal debt, the role of the federal government funding for public radio and television, and whether public broadcasting provides a balanced and nuanced approach to covering news of national interest.

It is also important to note that many congressional policymakers defend the federal role of funding public broadcasting. They contend that it provides news and information to large segments of the population that seek to understand complex policy issues in depth, and in particular for children’s television broadcasting, has a significant and positive impact on early learning and education for children.

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Most Say Tensions Between Trump Administration And News Media Hinder Access To Political News

Most Say Tensions Between Trump Administration And News Media Hinder Access To Political News. Pew Research Center. Michael Barthel, Jeffrey Gottfried and Amy Mitchell. April 4, 2017.

Following a presidential campaign season characterized by regular conflicts between Donald Trump and the news media and the continuation of these tensions since President Trump took office, nearly all Americans have taken notice, and large majorities feel these tensions are causing problems.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 94% of Americans say they have heard about the current state of the relationship between the Trump administration and the news media. And what they’ve seen does not reassure them: large majorities feel the relationship is unhealthy and that the ongoing tensions are impeding Americans’ access to important political news. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How Americans Encounter, Recall and Act Upon Digital News

How Americans Encounter, Recall and Act Upon Digital News. Pew Research Center. Amy Mitchell et al. February 9, 2017

Anyone who wants to understand today’s news environment faces a challenge: How to discern the nuances of digital news habits when Americans’ attention spans are fractured, human memory is naturally limited and news comes at them every which way.

To tackle this complex question, Pew Research Center, in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, took on the unusual task of staying in touch with more than 2,000 U.S. adults who get at least some news online over the course of a week. The study ran from Feb. 24 to March 1, 2016. Respondents were asked twice a day whether they got news online within the past two hours and, if so, were asked about their experience with that news. This technique was used to improve the chances that respondents would be able to accurately recall their recent news interactions and allowed researchers to ask about sources and behaviors with a high level of detail. This amounted to up to 14 completed surveys per person for a total of 25,602 interviews – 13,086 of which included online news consumption. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The FCC’s Rules and Policies Regarding Media Ownership, Attribution, and Ownership Diversity

The FCC’s Rules and Policies Regarding Media Ownership, Attribution, and Ownership Diversity. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Dana A. Scherer. December 16, 2016

From the earliest days of commercial radio, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its predecessor, the Federal Radio Commission, have encouraged diversity in broadcasting. This concern has repeatedly been supported by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has affirmed that “the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public,” and that “assuring that the public has access to a multiplicity of information sources is a governmental purpose of the highest order, for it promotes values central to the First Amendment.”
The FCC’s policies seek to encourage four distinct types of diversity: (1) diversity of viewpoints, as reflected in the availability of media content reflecting a variety of perspectives; (2) diversity of programming, as indicated by a variety of formats and content; (3) outlet diversity, to ensure the presence of multiple independently owned media outlets within a geographic market; and (4) minority and female ownership of broadcast media outlets.

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Covering Politics in a Post-Truth America

Covering Politics in a Post-Truth America. Brookings Institution. Susan B. Glasser. December 2, 2016

Coverage of American politics, and the capital that revolves around it, is in many ways much better now than ever before—faster, sharper, and far more sophisticated. There are great new digital news organizations for politics and policy obsessives, political science wonks, and national security geeks. We get more reporting and insight live from the campaign trail in a day than we used to get in a month, thanks to Google and Facebook, livestreaming and Big Data, and all the rest. Access to information—by, for, and about the government and those who aspire to run it—is dazzling and on a scale wholly unimaginable when Donald Trump was hawking his Art of the Deal in 1987. And we have millions of readers for our work now, not merely a hyper-elite few thousand.
The media scandal of 2016 isn’t so much about what reporters failed to tell the American public; it’s about what they did report on, and the fact that it didn’t seem to matter. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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