This report each year attempts to analyze the major sectors of the news media in depth and to look across those different elements of the news media to see broader trends.
For each of the nine sectors studied, we examine developments in five different distinct areas—audience, economics, newsroom investment, ownership and digital journalism—and, often, alternative outlets as well. We aggregate as much publicly available data as possible in one place and include original content analysis. In addition to numerous new charts of data, most compilations from earlier reports are updated and still available.
Our goal is to be a resource for the public, journalists, students, academics, those in government and those who want to use the news culture to communicate. 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. They can move across the introductory overviews of each sector. They can flip back and forth between our narrative and the interactive charts. And this year, they can interact with the data themselves through our two new interactive databases, 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 Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan and nonpolitical institute that studies the information revolution. PEJ is one of seven initiatives that make up the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. The center and this work are funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The chapters were written by the Project’s staff, with the exception of the chapters on newspapers and online, which were co-authored. 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, and where we interpret data to draw conclusions, our goal is to do so in a way that is fully supported by the data, and only when those data are clear.
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 it. We have attempted, to the best of our ability and within 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 sites. We hope this will allow us and others to make comparisons and develop insights that otherwise would be difficult to see.