Online media is replacing newspapers and TV. Is that a bad thing?
How the new online media landscape is changing the way the public gets its news.
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There were, on average, 21.6 million people watching one of the three network evening newscasts in 2010, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That's a good number, but it's 28.9 million fewer than watched in 1980. That drop is bad enough on its own, but consider the larger pool: There were 80 million more people in the United States in 2010 than in 1980. And though evening news viewership certainly isn't limited to the nation's senior centers, Katie, Brian, Diane, and Jim are well-known visitors in them. The median age of the nightly TV news viewer stands at over 62. So, in response to declining ratings at CBS, here we go again: another anchor shift aimed at bringing in younger viewers and bringing up ratings.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Is this the end of news?
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But regardless of who is in the anchor chair for any of the networks, they are bound to seem smaller in 21st-century America than they once did. The changes cascading through the news media have made the old models of news delivery – like, say, an anchor reading the news at an appointed time – seem archaic. And it is about more than just TV – newspapers, magazines, radio, all the "legacy" media are feeling the earth move beneath them. Journalists look out and see thousands of empty campus TV lounges and newsprint-less recycling bins and millions of iPads and smart phones and they wonder what's coming next.
For the public, the questions are deeper. What is the changing media landscape doing to the way the public gets news? What is it doing to the news itself? And what is it doing to the public as people?
The new day
In many ways Ms. Stine is the kind of young person news organizations dream about. She grew up in a house where The Philadelphia Inquirer was delivered daily, The New York Times came on the weekend, and the coffee table always featured the latest issues of The Economist and The New Yorker. And as an international relations student, she feels the need to keep up on the news. On her list of trusted, favorite news outlets – The New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, and KYW (a Philadelphia radio station).
But all of those outlets – a traditional newspaper and TV network, a blog, and a radio station – are consumed on one device: her MacBook laptop computer, which is always at her side or in her backpack, wherever she goes.
"I get an e-mail every day from The New York Times. That's my first look at the site," Stine says. "Why would I get the paper? It's free [here], but it's big and bulky and there are no links – nothing to click on if I want more."