U.S. media industry faces tougher challenges

15:52, March 30, 2010      

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The United States media industry is facing greater challenges despite the ongoing economic recovery, some U.S. media experts said on Monday.

The year 2009 witnessed more serious problems for the U.S. media industry. Traditional media, such as newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting are facing more of a revenue problem rather than an audience problem, said Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs of the George Washington University at a penal discussion on the "State of the Media 2010" report.

The report, which was released last Friday, said not only traditional media suffered a severe loss of revenue, new media like Internet also struggles with the risk of unsustainable business growth.

The numbers for 2009 reveal that U.S. newspapers, including their cyber version, saw an ad revenue fall of 26 percent, which brings the total loss over the last three years to 41 percent. The newspaper industry has lost 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in annual reporting and editing capacity since 2000, or roughly 30 percent.

Local television ad revenue fell 24 percent in 2009, tripling the decline of the year before. Radio also was off 18 percent. Magazine ad revenue dropped 19 percent, network TV shrank 7 percent. Online ad revenue over all fell about 5 percent.

Only cable news among the commercial news sectors did not suffer declining revenue last year, said the Pew report.

Compared with traditional media, the new media was experiencing exciting progress. However, it has its own problem.

Media experts said that in 2009, Twitter and other social media emerged as powerful tools for disseminating information and communicating from the earthquake disaster zone in Haiti.

"Citizen journalism at the local level is expanding rapidly and brimming with innovation," said the Pew report.

"As we enter 2010, there is little evidence that journalism online has found a sustaining revenue model."

New survey finds 79 percent of online news consumers say they rarely if ever have clicked on an online ad.

The survey also found that only about a third of Americans (35 percent) have a news destination online they would call a "favorite," and even among these users only 19 percent said they would continue to visit if that site put up a pay wall.

Experts argue that although the news eco-system is more challenging, the notion that the news media are shrinking is mistaken.

“Journalism has greatness and it costs money,” Charles Sennott, executive editor and co-founder of the GlobalPost, an online international news organization, said at the penal discussion.

“The media industry is transforming and this is the most exciting time for students to get into this field,” Sennott added.

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