State of the News Media: Podcasting on the rise, while cable news has another rough year

by | May 8, 2015 | Public Relations, Social Media, Traditional Media

The new year brought us fresh stats on how we’re getting our news, and it seems— perhaps to nobody’s surprise—that mobile will reign supreme in 2015.

Thirty-nine of the top 50 digital news websites now receive more traffic from mobile devices than desktop computers, according to the Pew Research Center’s “2015 State of the News Media Report.”

The report, which we’ve covered in previous years, tracks the growing and diversifying news industry over time and across a variety of indicators.

Some of the findings may not be much of a shock. For instance, the mobile crowd is an impatient one: for half of these top news sites, mobile users spent less time per visit than desktop users.

Similarly, the trend toward digital has been a slow-moving trainwreck for most newspapers, with weekday circulation down 19 per cent since 2004 and ad revenues declining four per cent year over year to $19.9 billion (less than half of what it was a decade ago). Daily and Sunday circulation both fell by around three per cent in 2014.

Local television continues to capture broadcast viewers, growing on-air ad revenue to roughly equal that of newspaper ad revenue – $19.7 billion. Cable news, however, suffered an eight-per-cent decline in viewership across big players Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.

There’s good news for audio journalism, though, especially podcasting: NPR’s podcast downloads alone grew 41 per cent year over year, according to the company’s internal data. And with most listeners tuning in from mobile devices, these portable news shows are winning the battle for air time against AM/FM radio in their cars.

Then there’s social: According to the report, “nearly half of web-using American adults said they consumed political news in the past week via Facebook’s news feed”, which is largely influenced by friends (which can often be like-minded, which in turn can lead to less exposure to different ways of thinking) and built-in algorithms.

The report also singled out a handful of standouts in the digital-only sphere of publishing, such as Vice News, Vox.com, Politico and Quartz.

But it also pointed out challenges some digital-only outlets are facing, such as the now-defunct Gigaom, The New Republic, and The Racket.

You can read all of the original data for Pew Research Center’s State of News Media 2015 here.


Hartley Butler George