The quality of journalism in the U.S. is suffering at the local and national levels, as TV and media outlets turn to algorithms, rather than produce stories from reporters, to cut costs.
According to the latest annual “State of the Media” report from the Pew Research Center, U.S. newsrooms have reduced their personnel by nearly 30 percent compared to the highs in 2000.
Journalism in the country suffers as a result, the study added.
Publishing companies and news organizations now take chances to send messages directly to the public despite inconsistent results, rather than use conventional news media.
Pew found that less than 40,000 full-time employees work in news, the lowest manpower in the industry since 1978.
Regardless of continuous growth in annual revenues, news companies CNN, Fox, and MSNBC suffered 30 percent drops in daytime coverage of live events from 2007. And their interview portions rose 31 percent, even though these segments do not need a full crew.
CNN has cut its story segments by nearly 50 percent. It has reduced story lengths on local TV stations, while simple topics to cover, such as sports, traffic, and weather, have risen to 40 percent of total content produced by the company.
Not only TV stations, but also media outlets are suffering.
Forbes and several other media outlets now use services, such as Narrative Science, to deliver stories through a computer algorithm, rather than the conventional reporter, to cut costs.
Pew said this explains why the news industry is more shorthanded and offhanded to reveal stories, to dig deep into new reports, or to challenge information it receives.
The most indisputable evidence to poor journalism happened during the last presidential election, when campaign reporters who covered the electoral process turned into newsmongers, rather than researchers, Pew added.
The research center said only about 25 percent of accounts on presidential candidates’ persona and track records came from journalists, as opposed to nearly 50 percent from political partisans. This is a full turnaround from 12 years ago, when half came from journalists and one-third from partisans.
Pew’s survey found that 31 percent of newsreaders no longer grab news from an outlet because it fails to provide the information they once needed.
Based on the study’s results, most newsreaders who left were also the most avid news fans: highly educated and well-off male readers.
Companies, organizations, and personalities continue to invest in the production of content for their own channels, such as social networking sites and blogs.
Pew observed that the news industry has failed to capitalize on the growth of digital advertisements. It loses to online advertising companies, such as Google and Facebook.
Online advertising companies have gained good ground on mobile devices. And newsreaders have increasingly turned to smartphones and tablets to read the news.
However, publishers still see growth in online video and sponsored ads.
The New York Times said it now earns more on subscription fees than regular advertisements.
Publishers and news organizations look for new forms of native advertising, where brand messages integrate more deeply into key site elements, including navigation and stories.
Native advertising has a risk.
Pew said readers will mix up sponsored content with the news, and publishers have to provide a good distinction between them.