1 in 5 News Execs Say Cuts Hurt

May 17, 2010

While most news executives say their newsrooms can still do the job well, a sizable minority says they can barely do the job or not at all, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Despite Significant Optimism, Many Execs Report Cutback Problems
Combining the responses of newspaper and broadcast executives, the “News Leaders and the Future” study shows that about 65% of respondents say that as a result of cutbacks their newsrooms are leaner than ideal but can still do the job well. Another 8% say their newsrooms are plenty big to do the job, even after accounting for the cutbacks that have affected almost all news organizations in recent years.

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However, 20% of respondents say that following cutbacks, their newsrooms are too small to do more than the bare minimum. One percent go so far as to say their newsrooms are so small they cannot meet the needs of the organization.

Newspaper Execs Generally More Positive
When responses are separated by newspaper and broadcast executive, it becomes clear that in general, newspaper executives feel better about newsroom cutbacks than broadcast executives. Seventy percent of newspaper executives say their newsrooms are leaner than ideal but can still do the job well, compared to about 62% of broadcast executives. And 10% of newspaper executives say their newsrooms are plenty big to do the job, compared to about 8% of broadcast executives.

Only 15% of newspaper executives say their newsrooms are too small to do more than the bare minimum, compared to about 22% of broadcast executives. Interestingly, a higher percentage of newspapers executives (5%) took the most pessimistic viewpoint, that their newsrooms are so small they cannot meet the needs of the organization, than broadcast executives (about 1%).

Other Findings

  • Seventy percent of respondents reported staff cutbacks in the past three years.
  • Only 15% of respondents believe paid online content will be a significant source of revenue in three years.
  • Sixty-four percent of broadcast executives think their profession is heading in the wrong direction, compared to 35% of newspaper executives.
  • Seventy-five percent of respondents say mobile applications are essential or very important.

Americans Get News on Multiple Platforms
The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Americans get their news from a combination of on- and offline sources, including national TV, local TV, the internet, local newspapers, radio, and national newspapers. Six in ten Americans (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.

About the Data: The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, in association with the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), recently surveyed 353 newspaper and broadcast executives for the News Leaders and the Future study.

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