Nearly one-third of American adults have stopped using a news source because its quality of coverage has declined amid cutbacks, a survey by Pew Research Center finds.
Cutbacks at newspapers and local television stations have left the news industry undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories or dig deep into public issues, according to the Pew Research Center’s annual report on American journalism.
That conclusion might be expected to matter most to journalists struggling to keep their jobs. But members of the general public have noticed the cutbacks in quality, which have caused them to turn away from news outlets, reports Pew, a respected nonpartisan organization.
Nearly one-third of US adults have stopped using a news source because it no longer provided them with the quality of coverage they were accustomed to getting. “With reporting resources cut to the bone and fewer specialized beats, journalists’ level of expertise in any one area and the ability to go deep into a story are compromised,” the report said.
The woes of the newspaper industry are well known. A more recent development is that “local TV finds itself newly vulnerable,” Pew said. Or, as The New York Times put it, “local TV news is following print’s path.”
Local TV audiences were down in every time slot and across all networks in 2013. While advertising purchases during the 2012 election provided a temporary boost to revenues, average revenue for news-producing TV stations fell 36 percent from 2006 to 2011.
When Pew surveyed local TV news content, it found sports, weather, and traffic account for 40 percent of the average local news broadcast. The length of reported stories is shrinking. News providers face a vicious cycle. As customers leave, news organizations can afford fewer reporters. That hurts quality and can lead to a further reduction in audience size.