Monday, March 18, 2013

The Square


The waterfront at Jack London Square. Every Sunday they have a Farmer's Market; one stand makes a wood-fired pizza that is to die for. I wander down every once in a while and sit here and enjoy the view of the Inner Harbor; you can see all the way to SF on a clear day.

RNC report: "We have to sell our horrible policy with more lies in our digital outreach." Or something. Obvious they don't "get it" yet; if we are lucky they never will.

Hope this won't over-shadow another important report that came out today, one that you are not likely to see from the media: The Pew report on the media. In a nutshell, the industry has been devastated in the last decade, the medium of delivery is changing rapidly, and right now most of it is not meeting the needs of consumers.

Signs of the shrinking reporting power are documented throughout this year’s report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978. In local TV, our special content report reveals, sports, weather and traffic now account on average for 40% of the content produced on the newscasts studied while story lengths shrink. On CNN, the cable channel that has branded itself around deep reporting, produced story packages were cut nearly in half from 2007 to 2012. Across the three cable channels, coverage of live events during the day, which often require a crew and correspondent, fell 30% from 2007 to 2012 while interview segments, which tend to take fewer resources and can be scheduled in advance, were up 31%. Time magazine, the only major print news weekly left standing, cut roughly 5% of its staff in early 2013 as a part of broader company layoffs. And in African-American news media, the Chicago Defender has winnowed its editorial staff to just four while The Afro cut back the number of pages in its papers from 28-32 in 2008 to 16-20 in 2012. A growing list of media outlets, such as Forbes magazine, use technology by a company called Narrative Science to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporting necessary. And some of the newer nonprofit entrants into the industry, such as the Chicago News Cooperative, have, after launching with much fanfare, shut their doors.

This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.

I'm living proof of this - I no longer read the horrible mLive group of newspapers. Not only is the web design one of the ugliest I've ever seen, the content itself is vapid. They let all their seasoned and knowledgeable reporters go. Now, every once in a while there is an interesting, in-depth report, but it takes too much sifting through mountains of crap to find it. I don't have time for that.

I have a lot to say about the state of the media, but I have to wait until I'm clear of my present circumstances to really get into it. Maybe later this year I'll tell you the story...