Local Matters

April 20, 2012

by Roger Pynn

A report from the Pew Research Center has important pointers for media companies, and perhaps good news for newspapers and the communities they serve.  The study, in partnership with the Knight Foundation, says that nearly 75 percent of adults follow local news “most of the time, whether or not something important is happening.”

What Pew calls “local news enthusiasts” are generationally diverse … “one quarter are Generation Y (ages 18-34), about two in 10 are Gen Xers (ages 35-46) or Younger Boomers (ages 47-56), and roughly one in 10 are older Baby Boomers (ages 57-65) in the Silent Generation (ages 66-74), or from the G.I. Generation (age 75+).”

Then there are the Millennials … or Gen Y … the crowd born between 1980 and the turn of the century.  They fall into what Pew refers to as “less enthusiastic followers of local news.”

The challenge … for people in the news business, and for the community leaders they write about, to figure out what really matters to Millennials before it is too late for both.


If it’s In the News, People Probably Don’t Trust it

October 10, 2011

by Julie Primrose

A recent study from the Pew Research Center shows that people’s opinions of news organizations are more negative than ever.  The public’s decidedly negative outlook of the media stems mainly from cable news outlets such as CNN and Fox News, which most respondents named as the outlets they think of when considering “news organizations.”

So with 66 percent of respondents reporting they get most of their news from television, it seems people have little faith in the news they’re receiving.  More than ever, people feel the media’s stories are inaccurate, biased and influenced by powerful organizations.

After reading this study, my thoughts echo the sentiment of our partner Dan Ward in his recent Taking Aim post calling for the media to uphold their commitment to report accurately and free from bias for the generations to come.


Turn to the Message Boards – I Think Not

May 24, 2011

by Dan Ward

I gained some insight last week into why political discourse continues to devolve into schoolyard taunting and soccer hooliganism.

A former social media strategist for a presidential campaign was speaking to a group of PR professionals and made an off-hand remark that the No. 1 destination to which Americans turn for news – aside from “The Daily Show” – is the online message board.  My first thought was, “so this explains why politicians rant and rave rather than engage in conversation … they think that’s what people want to hear.”

I wish I had challenged her to share the research on which this claim was based, because I can find nothing to back it up.  The Pew Research Center reports that while people are increasingly going online for news, most still turn to traditional sources like television news.  I see very little mention of the message boards.

While the political strategist advised posting to the message boards, we advise most clients to stay far away.  Who we see on the message boards are largely the “ten-percenters,” those people whose opinions you are never going to change no matter how hard you try – as evidenced by LOUD comments and inflammatory rhetoric – when you engage the lunatic fringe, you give them credibility, and you take your eye off the larger percentage of people who are fair-minded, reasonable and open to new ideas.

As we’ve discussed here before, the people who share their opinions on message boards are able to do so anonymously, so all sense of decency is often lost.  Many news organizations are seeing the light, and either eliminating the anonymity or removing message boards altogether.

If you want to engage in fruitless arguments, by all means head to the message boards.  If you want to engage in discussion that sways opinion and drives action, don’t listen to political strategists … listen to your audience.


A Tale of Two Charts

April 6, 2011

by Dan Ward

The Pew Research Center has released a chart detailing how several top newspapers saw a decline in audience from 2009 to 2010.

Meanwhile, our own Orlando Sentinel ran a chart on the front page yesterday showing how many press credentials have been issued for the Casey Anthony trial (including 28 – yes, 28 – for the Sentinel).

Coincidence?


The Dangerfield Effect

March 16, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Pity the poor newspaper industry.  While a Pew Research Center study released this week made news fit to print, it apparently was of little importance when viewed by OrlandoSentinel.com editors who apparently took for granted the results showing for the first time in history “more people said they got their news from the Web than a physical newspaper last year.”

Clearly the online editors take it for granted you get your news digitally (“what’s a newspaper?”).

But sadder than the fact newspapers are treated with no more respect than the late comic Rodney (“I Can’t Get No Respect”) Dangerfield, is that the print story focused not on what the authors of the study found most interesting but instead their own demise.

Tom Rosentiel and Amy Mitchell wrote:

“By several measures, the state of the American news media improved in 2010.

“After two dreadful years, most sectors of the industry saw revenue begin to recover.  With some notable exceptions, cutbacks in newsrooms eased.  And while still more talk than action, some experiments with new revenue models began to show signs of blossoming.”

Now what is it that keeps the media from reporting even good news about itself?



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