Pew’s State Of The News Media Report: Print Ads Down $1.5 Billion; Digital Up 3%

One big bright spot: Mobile advertising grew 80% to a total of $2.6 billion.

Pew’s State Of The News Media Report: Print Ads Down $1.5 Billion; Digital Up 3%

Pew’s annual State Of The News Media report is out. It reveals an industry in semi-crisis as it confronts a tech-savvy audience that’s changing how it accesses news, and ever declining print revenues.


Advertisements in print slipped down $1.5 billion and are thus below $20 billion for the first time since 1982, according to Poynter. The big contribution to this decline is a 10% drop year on year in national ads. Digital ad incomes did grow 3%, but didn’t cover print losses. While digital pay site adoption is working at big papers like the New York Times and even some smaller sites, and may be driving increased circulation–Pew says the income isn’t enough to turn around the overall slump in the industry.

Local television news saw viewing figures decline across the board, and just 28% of people under 30 years old get their news from such broadcasts–a huge decline from the 2006 figure of 42%. Perhaps this decline is because Pew notes 40% of local news shows focus on non-news items like sports and the weather–which is info that’s readily available in more real time via digital outlets or apps. Even big news outlets seem to be struggling: Pew notes that news coverage on the three cable channels live news event coverage was down 30% in 2012 versus 2007 and interview segments were up 31%. Interview segments need less crew and cash and can be filmed at leisure, whereas live segments need many operatives.

Pew also notes that the public is much more savvy about choosing a news outlet now, and 31% of U.S. adults have stopped using a particular outlet because it didn’t give them what they want. More men than women switch outlets, and more high-educated news consumers and high earners too–typically folk that Pew rates as high news consumers.

One big bright spot in Pew’s data is that mobile advertising grew 80% to a total of $2.6 billion, with a big emphasis on display ads. Facebook is a notable player in this game, even though it didn’t release its mobile ad system until mid-2012–and the company is trying to rebrand itself as a 21st century news portal. But Pew notes that this swing to mobile ads isn’t necessarily benefiting local news outlets because it’s allowing national advertisers to geo-target consumers.

For a full read you’ll have to scan through Pew’s report. But do you already feel Pew’s data is merely confirming that the news industry–particularly traditional print news–is failing to innovate fast enough?

[Image: Flickr user Thoth, God of Knowledge]

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