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Eight Major Trends

Eight Major Trends

For now, the year 2004, the transformation is shaped by eight overarching trends:

These are some of the conclusions from this new study of the state of American journalism, a study that we believe is unprecedented in its comprehensive scope. The report breaks American journalism into eight sectors – newspapers, magazines, network television, cable television, local television, the Internet, radio, and ethnic and alternative media (which are distinct from each other).

For each of the media sectors, we tried to answer basic questions in six areas: the trends in content, audience, economics, ownership, newsroom investment and public attitudes. We aggregated as much publicly available data as is possible in one place and, for six of the sectors, also conducted an original content analysis. (For local television news, we relied on five years of content analysis the Project had previously conducted. For radio, ethnic and alternative media, no special content analysis was conducted.)

The study is the work of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an institute affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The study is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, whose leadership challenged us to take on this assignment.. The chapters were written, with the exceptions of those on network television, cable, and newspapers, which had co-authors, by the Project’s staff.

Our aim is for this to be a research report, not an argument. It is not our intention to try to persuade anyone to a particular point of view. Where the facts are clear, we hope we have not shied from explaining what they reveal, making clear what is proven versus what is only suggested. We hope, however, that we are not seen as simply taking sides in any journalistic debates.

We have tried to be as transparent as possible about sources and methods, and to make it clear when we are laying out data versus when we have moved into analysis of that data.

We believe our approach of looking at a set of questions across various media differs from the conventional way in which American journalism is analyzed, one medium at a time. We have tried to identify cross-media trends and to gather in one place data that are usually scattered across different venues. We hope this will allow us and others to make comparisons and develop insights that otherwise would be difficult to see. Across the six questions we examined we found some distinct patterns.