State of the Media 2011: A few nuggets for the transportation communicator

The latest Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism report on the State of the Media was released Monday, March 19, and it includes many interesting insights. I have not read through the entire report yet, but a few things jumped out at me.

The annual report tends to serve as a snapshot in time for how people are currently consuming news and information. It analyzes online news, newspapers and broadcast outlets. For those of us in the transportation communications world, understanding how people are consuming their news helps in deciding how best to strategically approach building our outreach efforts.

In the section titled “What Facebook and Twitter Mean for News,” the authors argue “social media news consumption is supplemental.” People are not turning to Facebook and Twitter INSTEAD of newspaper web sites and other sources of news, but in ADDITION to those other sources. Twitter and Facebook, therefore, are still the places to find the heavy news consumers who already are regularly following news in other places.

For newspapers, the news was good and bad. According to the report, revenues continued to decline but overall audiences continue to hold up. There were more newsroom cutbacks in 2011 as newspaper companies tried to hold down costs. But ultimately, the newspaper section of the report points toward what we heard last week from a Washington DC editors panel – basically that most newspaper companies are rapidly evolving into news organizations pushing content out via a variety of media channels. Print editions are just one representation of that day’s news.

Finally, the local TV news genre seems alive and well. According to the report, local TV news programming gained audience in key early morning and late evening time slots.

There is much more to glean out of this annual report. But clearly, we are witnessing a rapid Darwinian reinvention of American media in which the creative thrive. And, it seems as if the social media revolution may be driving the mainstream, but it certainly is not replacing it – at least not yet.

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