The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study today of the modern news ecosystem, examining a week of news activity in Baltimore, MD. You can get the details from the study itself but I wanted to point out a couple things that caught my attention.
Of the stories in Baltimore that week that contained new information 95% came from traditional media and the majority of that from newspapers:
So newspapers can pat themselves on the back for another day. But before we dismiss online and social media sources as nothing more than aggregators and promotion outlets let’s remember that this study reflects the state of the news ecosystem today. Things are just now beginning to shift as the economic viability of the current model is beginning to fail. New media can and will play an increasing role in original news reporting in the years to come.
Also this statement on the role of new technology in breaking news more quickly was interesting:
As news is posted faster, often with little enterprise reporting added, the official version of events is becoming more important. We found official press releases often appear word for word in first accounts of events, though often not noted as such.
While many people regard press releases as little more than throw-away text the reality is that smaller news sources in particular do in fact use that content in full or repurposed form. Bill Hunt wrote about this a while back in looking at the use of tech press releases by bloggers. So companies can increase the likelihood of their press releases being used by bloggers and local news sources by giving them a more news-like tone and dialing down the marketing hype.