Pessimism Among Print and Broadcast JournalistsMost newspaper and broadcast news editors think American journalism is in decline, and about half believe that their employers will go out of business if they do not find new sources of revenue, according to a survey to be released on Monday.
Among print editors, 18 percent said their papers were actively pursuing the idea of charging readers for access to their Web sites, while 58 percent said it was under consideration. Twenty-three percent said they believed that in three years, such subscription fees would be their primary source of online revenue, having overtaken advertising.The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism polled members of two industry groups, the American Society of News Editors and the Radio Television Digital News Association. It received 353 sets of responses to the survey, conducted in December and January.
In addition, 48 percent of the editors who participated said that without a significant new income stream, their organizations could not remain solvent for more than 10 years; 31 percent gave them five years or less.
Despite that pessimism, about three-quarters of the editors who took part said they would have serious objections to accepting direct support from either the government or interest groups, and a similar number said their organizations had not seriously thought about taking donations from nonprofit groups. In an era of shrinking newsrooms, 58 percent of the editors said journalism was headed in the wrong direction. Sixty-two percent said the Internet had changed the profession's fundamental values, with most citing a loosening of standards.
Broadcast executives were slightly more hopeful than their print counterparts about their employers' financial futures, but broadcasters took a significantly darker view of what is happening to the quality of journalism.
When asked why the industry was in such trouble, nearly half the editors said that in good times, the demands for profit margins were excessive, while many others said their organizations were too slow to embrace and invest in the Internet. And 30 percent of the print editors said their papers should have begun charging Internet readers long ago.