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News Media Adapting to Web, Fewer Resources

"The transformation facing journalism is epochal," according to a new media study. The annual State of the News Media report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism says that news outlets are likely to lower their ambitions as a fragmented market — including the Internet — leaves them with fewer resources.

The new era of journalism, says Tom Rosenstiel, one of the report's authors, represents a significant shift in power from the journalist to the citizen.

The old days, when journalists acted as the gatekeepers who provided news to their readers or audience, are over, he says. Instead, Rosenstiel says, the audience decides what it wants to see.


That doesn't mean people aren't interested in news. Quite the contrary, says Rosenstiel. But with all the resources now available to people, the audience is splintered. As a result, most news organizations have a smaller number of viewers, readers and listeners.

And that, in turn, means fewer resources. In response, Rosenstiel says, journalism is entering a new phase of "limited ambitions." News organizations are trying to build an audience around a specific area of coverage. Some are practicing what he calls "hyperlocalism." Others may focus on personality-driven content.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has been tracking trends in the news media for a number of years. Rosenstiel says that this, their fourth annual report, shows evidence that the world of traditional journalism is finally coming to terms with the radical changes brought about by the Web.

While that is often leading to richer experiences for consumers of the news, the challenge for the journalism business is finding a new economic model to support itself. The old model of advertising in newspapers and on television is less successful on the Internet, where people expect to get their news for free. Rosenstiel says that journalism needs more risk takers to lead the way into the future.

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