This year marks the tenth edition of Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media Report. First published in 2004, the report takes stock each year of how news is gathered and reported and how Americans consume that news.
Each year, we analyze the major sectors of the news industry in several different areas from audience trends to economics to newsroom resources to content and more. We then look across those sectors to see broader trends affecting the news industry overall.
To produce the report, we combine our analysis of data others have generated along with our own reporting and our own original research. Our goal each year is to provide for citizens, journalists, researchers and scholars a singular resource about American journalism — the record of our civic and cultural life.
For each of the sectors studied, we examine developments in five distinct areas—audience, economics, newsroom investment, ownership and digital trends—and, alternative outlets as well. There is also a separate digital chapter that addresses trends which cut across the news industry overall. For ethnic media, rather than give a more cursory examination of “all” ethnic media, we now focus on a particular segment each year. This year we look at African-American news media.
The media sector chapters contain two parts. A summary essay tells the narrative story of that sector over the course of the past year. A separate By the Numbers section presents a full range of statistics, graphically rendered with minimal text to make data easier to locate and scan. In addition to new data, most charts and tables from earlier reports are updated and still available. Users can interact with the data by accessing the statistics in the form of Excel spreadsheets to make their own tables and answer their own questions.
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 newspapers, local TV, digital and magazine chapters were co-authored with industry experts. Other chapters were written and researched wholly by the Project’s staff. 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.