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Author’s Note

Author’s Note

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

For each of the media sectors studied, we examine six different areas — audience trends, economics, ownership, newsroom investment, digital journalism and alternative news outlets. We aggregate as much publicly available data as is possible in one place and include original content analysis. In addition to numerous new charts of data, most charts from earlier reports are updated and still available.

People can approach the material in this report in several ways. They can go directly to the medium about which they are most concerned — say local television news — and drive vertically through it. Or they can focus on a particular issue — audience trends, for example — and move horizontally across different media sectors to see where Americans are going for news. Or they can move across the introductory overviews of each sector. They can flip back and forth between our narrative and the interactive charts and tabular material. Or they can work through the statistics for themselves, making their own charts, answering their own questions, in effect creating their own reports.

Our desire in this study is to answer questions we imagine any reader would find important, to help clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the available data, and to identify what is not yet answerable.

The study is the work of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan and non-political institute that studies the press and is part of the Pew Research Center in Washington. The study is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The chapters were written by the Project’s staff, with the exception of the chapter on newspapers, which was written with the help of a co-author. All of the chapters also benefit from the input of teams of readers who are experts in each media sector.

Our aim is a research report, not an argument. Where the facts are clear, we hope we have not shied from explaining what they reveal, making clear what is proved and what is only suggested. We hope that we are not seen as taking sides. Our intention is to inform, not to persuade.

We have tried to be as transparent as possible about sources and methods, and to make it clear when we are laying out data and when we have moved into analysis of that data. We have attempted, to the best of our ability and the limits of time, to seek out multiple sources of information for comparison where they exist. Each year we hope to gather more sources, improve our understanding and refine our methodology.

Our approach — looking at a set of questions across various media — differs from the conventional way in which American journalism is analyzed, one medium at a time. We have tried to identify cross-media trends and to gather in one place data that are usually scattered across different places. We hope this will allow us and others to make comparisons and develop insights that otherwise would be difficult to see.