“Chilling” is a term used with a very special meaning among journalists, as in the chilling, or suppressing, of information.
On a day when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last print edition, and within just weeks of the demise of the Rocky Mountain News, the word landed with a particular and resounding thud.
Pointing to a 23 percent decline in newspaper advertising revenues over the past two years, the respected Project for Excellence in Journalism reported that “Some of the numbers are chilling. Newspaper ad revenues have fallen 23% in the last two years. Some papers are in bankruptcy, and others have lost three-quarters of their value.”
The worst may be yet to come, “The State of the News Media 2009” reports. “By our calculations, nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone, and 2009 may be the worst year yet.”
The year now just behind us “may be seen as the year when the traditional mass audience model finally collapsed,” PEJ authors wrote.
“New patterns in news consumption and a deteriorating economy deepened the emerging cracks in the economic foundation of the media in 2008,” they wrote at another point. It was a big news year … yet “most media continued to see audiences shrink.”
More sound-bite one liners pending a more in-depth review in an upcoming Yale Forum posting? Sample these:
- “Power is shifting to the individual journalist and away, by degrees, from journalistic institutions …. search, e-mail, blogs, social media …”
- “A strong news year in 2008 provided journalists with an opportunity to win back some of the respect and confidence they had lost from the public. There’s scant evidence, though, that happened.”
- “Perhaps paradoxically, a public that said it relies to a large and growing extent on the Internet for news gave it particularly low marks for credibility.” While audiences increasingly moved away from leading print outlets, believability for those, and also for to TV news operations, remained stable.
- “The public’s view of journalists hasn’t worsened much in recent years. But neither has it improved.”
- “Other than in cable news, the picture in newsrooms in 2008 was brutal, and 2009 could be worse. America’s newspapers got smaller in just about every way,” with 10 percent, or some 5,000, full-time newsroom jobs lost. “The impact was especially severe on overseas bureaus, in state capitals, and in Washington.”
Those looking for direct references to climate change or global warming coverage in the 180,000-word report may feel underserved: The issue didn’t make it into (or near?) the top 10 issues covered by the media and analyzed by the “State of” report. That of course doesn’t mean the findings aren’t germane to coverage of those issues, as they of course are. Future updates to The Yale Forum will delve more deeply into the 2009 PEJ report to glean what lessons can be learned and applied specifically to media on climate change issues.