News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Research

March 01, 2010

Pew: How cell phones, internet have turned news into a social experience

In the last few years, the social aspects of news have shifted from the sidelines to center stage, thanks to the evolution of internet and mobile technology. A new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project on Excellence in Journalism explains how this works. See: How internet and cell phone users have turned news into a social experience

A few highlights…

  • Popularity: “The internet has surpassed newspapers and radio in popularity as a news platform on a typical day and now ranks just behind TV.”
  • Portability: “33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.”
  • Personalization: “28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.”
  • Participation: “37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. ...More than 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in e-mails.”
  • Socializing: “Getting news is often an important social act. Some 72% of American news consumers say they follow the news because they enjoy talking with others about what is happening in the world and 69% say keeping up with the news is a social or civic obligation. And 50% of American news consumers say they rely to some degree on people around them to tell them the news they need to know.”

The mobile aspects are especially interesting. About 80% of American adults have cell phones, 37% of them use their phones to acces the net. Just over one quarter of all Americans (33% of US cell phone owners) get at least some news via cell phone today. Here’s the kind of mobile news they get:

  • Weather: 26%
  • News and current events: 25%
  • Applications for news content: 18%
  • Sports scores and stories: 16%
  • Traffic: 13%
  • Financial: 12%
  • News via e-mail and text messaging: 11%

The complete report is available online.

March 15, 2010

New Pew Report: State of the News Media 2010

How bad was 2009 for the mainstream news business? The State of the News Media 2010 report just published by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism paints a generally bleak picture…

  • Newspapers now spend $1.6 billion less annually on reporting and editing than they did a decade ago.
  • Network and local TV news operations saw sharp drops in revenues, viewership, and jobs. Cable news was the sole commercial news sector that did not suffer declining revenue and layoffs in 2009.
  • Magazine ad pages sold across all titles fell by 26% in 2009.

However, there are some bright spots. Nonprofit funding for new media ventures since 2006 totals about $141 million, according to a J-Lab estimate. And this figure does not include many ventures that operate without grants or that come from legacy media. Also, new revenue streams (such as mobile advertising) are steadily growing—even though so far they represent only a small piece of the news revenue pie.

This report does seem to gauge the emerging economics, dynamics, and practices of the news ecosystem against benchmarks from the heyday of the mainstream news industry. This approach can make it harder to spot today’s opportunities. Still, this is valuable information that’s worth reading.

Meanwhile, a new Pew Internet & American Life Project poll found that news organizations face very grim prospects to convince consumers to pay for online news.

March 31, 2010

Internet will probably conquer bureaucracy eventually, says new Pew report

Frustrated by slow, convoluted bureaucracies? Just watch the net and wait. And wait. New research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that the internet will make businesses and government agencies much more responsive and efficient—by 2020. That’s what 72% of nearly 900 “technology stakeholders and critics” surveyed by Pew believe…

Why will these improvements take so long, or maybe even longer? Powerful bureaucratic forces will push back against such transformation. Expect continuing tension in disruptive times.

In contrast, about one-fourth of respondents believe “By 2020, governments, businesses, non‐profits and other mainstream institutions will primarily retain familiar 20th century models for conduct of relationships with citizens and consumers online and offline.”

Read the survey results, including remarks from many respondents who chose to elaborate upon their answers.

April 05, 2010

Trade press editors report severe digital training lag

When it comes to updating their skill sets, editors in the trade press (business-to-business publications) mostly must fend for themselves. This is according to a recent survey of 273 trade press editors conducted by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) and the Medill School/Media Management Center at Northwestern University…

About 80% of respondents reported getting one day or less of company-sponsored digital training in 2009. Over one third reported receiving no digital training whatsoever from their employers. Two thirds of respondents reported the training they did received was inadequate. And 27% of respondents rated their person digital-media skills as “behind” or “way behind” the rate at which their publications’ brands are transitioning to digital media.

Download the full survey results

April 12, 2010

Do news execs know where their companies went wrong?

This week, the Radio and TV News Directors Association and the American Society of Newspaper Editors both are holding their annual meetings. So it’s a good time to check out the newly released results of a Project on Excellence in Journalism survey, News Leaders and the Future, which polled executives from both groups about their views on the news business.

From December 2009 to January 2010, PEJ interviewed 128 newspaper executives and 225 broadcast news executives about their views on the future of journalism. One part that is especially intriguing is what these executives thought their news organizations could have done differently over the last decade to better prepare for the future.

Here’s how they responded…

Would have done differently  Newspaper
Invested in new media, technology, or internet36%37%
Charged for content earlier30%3%
Changed culture or approach23%17%
Hired, trained or focused more on staff and their skills18%23%
Understood community, users, consumers better9%8%
Resisted certain changes to culture, approach1%4%
Made better financial decisions3%1%

These answers could indicate that perhaps many of today’s news industry execs still don’t quite grasp what caused their companies to fall on hard times. This could be a problem as these organizations attempt to navigate the evolving news landscape.

April 20, 2010

Pew Report: Teens and Mobile Phones

To build tomorrow’s news audience, news providers must engage today’s youth. It’s obvious that cell phones are the media tool of choice for most teens—and they’re especially fond of text messaging.

New research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates just how rampant teen texting has grown. Beyond texting, cell phones also have become an important tool to help low-income teens bridge the digital divide. In fact, much of how teens use cell phones is dictated by economics…

According to the Teens and Mobile Phones report, 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones (up from 45% in 2004). 72% of all teens (88% of teen cell users) use text-messaging. Contrast this to 2006, when just 51% of teens were texters in 2006. Also, more than half of teens (54%) send or receive text messages daily.

Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day. However, 22% of teens text just 1-10 times daily. Boys typically send/receive 30 texts per day; girls, 80.

The wealthier a teen’s family is (especially above $50,000 annual income), the more likely their phone will be on a family plan. Three-quarters of teen cell users have unlimited texting plans, and these teens typically send and receive 70 texts daily.

Teens from lower-income families are more likely to have prepaid plans or their own cell contract—often with limits on text messages and voice minutes. Teens on limted texting plans typically send/receive 10 texts a day, and teens who pay per message typically send/receive 5 texts per day.

Cell phones help bridge the digital divide by providing internet access to lower-income teens. From families earning $30,000 or less per year, 41% of teens report that they use their phone to go online. Nearly a third of these teens have no computer at home. 44% of black teens and 35% of Hispanic teens go online via cell phones to go online, versus only 21% of white teens.

Teens who pay the full cost of their cell phones on their own tend to be older and poorer—but they also tend to do more with their phones. In particular, they’re more likely to use their phone to go online (39%) than teens whose phones are covered by a family plan (26%). According to the report, this “suggests that as they grow more independent, teens use their resources to expand their use of the cell phone.”

However, some teens, say it’s too expensive to go online from their cell phone. Others report dissatisfaction with the mobile web interface, lor frustration with slow-loading pages.

More than half of text-using teens have gotten spam or other unwanted texts—but mostly these are not commercial advertisements, but harassment or pranks from other individuals. Teens detest unwanted texts so severely that they sometimes react by turning off their phones for hours at a time. According to the report, “This is noteworthy, considering turning the phone off is otherwise unthinkable for many teens”—a point worth considering for any opt-in SMS service aimed at teens that includes paid advertisements.

April 23, 2010

Philadelphia journalism collaborative effort spurred by J-Lab report

On April 21, the William Penn Foundation announced its plans to make investments to develop an independent journalism collaborative in Philadelphia. This was based on recommendations made in J-Lab’s new report, Exploring a Networked Journalism Collaborative in Philadelphia (a study commissioned by the foundation).

Philly’s daily papers have fallen on hard times—in fact, today is the deadline for opening bids to buy Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., which declared bankruptcy in February.

Nevertheless, J-Lab says the nation’s sixth-largest city is home to a diverse media ecosystem that could, with some coordination, help local residents stay informed about (and participate in) city life.

According to J-Lab, Philadelphia is “ripe for a networked journalism collaborative.” This could be “anchored by an independent news site that would both curate and aggregate some of the excellent reporting originating in many of the city’s new media sites as well as provide original reporting on a half-dozen key topics and serve as the connective tissue for the partners. This should be a supplemental, rather than comprehensive, news enterprise.”

Under the umbrella of a collaborative with a central web site, Philly-area independent journalists could generate original news and issues coverage on six to eight key issues where coverage currently lags. It also would enable city officials, agencies, community organizations, nonprofits, and others to share their information.

Read the full report.

April 27, 2010

Mobile social networking: It’s big, it’s business, and it may not be what you expect

If your news org is trying to catch up with mobile media (and you should, there’s not much time), then consider social media as a crucial part of your mobile strategy. A new study from Ground Truth (a mobile measurement firm) claims that when people use the mobile web, more than half their time there is spent on social networking sites. And surprisingly, Facebook is not the most engaging mobile social networking site…

In a press release, Ground Truth VP Evan Neufeld said, “Facebook and MySpace may be the most addictive pastimes on the PC, but sites like MocoSpace and AirG command more attention on mobile phones. For example, each MocoSpace user spent in excess of an hour more on the site than did the average Facebook visitor during the week. This data points to the fact that there is a whole universe of media properties advertisers need to consider that have to date been largely ignored. It also demonstrates that traditional media companies that are not focused on the Mobile Internet (both browser- and application-based usage) risk losing market share to leaner, more mobile focused companies.”

...If you haven’t heard of MocoSpace and AirG, and if you’re wondering why Ground Truth’s report doesn’t mention Twitter, it helps to understand that the mobile metrics service Ground Truth sells (which is the basis of the numbers in this report) only measures traffic to sites accessed via a mobile web browser. It does not measure social networking conducted via mobile apps, and it does not measure activities that don’t require a mobile web browser (such as text/photo messaging or e-mail). Therefore, this study does not address how people use their cell phones overall—just how they spend the portion of their mobile time they spend using a web browser.

MocoSpace and AirG are popular mobile services that delivers chat, link/media sharing, and more via mobile web browsers. These services have millions of users worldwide because they work well on lower-end “feature phones”—not just higher-end, costlier smartphones with unlimited data plans. Since these services have been totally focused on the broadest possible mobile market from the beginning, often people who mainly access the web via computer (or who rely mainly on smartphones) haven’t heard of them. But they are big—and worth a look when forming your mobile strategy.

My guess is that Twitter wasn’t mentioned in this report, even though it’s very mobile-friendly (that 140-character limit exists so tweets work via text messaging) because most active Twitter users don’t post or read tweets via the Twitter web site. Third-party Twitter applications (web or mobile) are much easier to use. So don’t read this study and assume that Twitter is not a key mobile social media service. It is—but just not one that Ground Truth can measure well.

April 27, 2010

Government Online: New Pew report

Increasingly, civic engagement means helping people interact effectively with government online. In the last year, 82% of US internet users (61% of all American adults) looked for information or completed a transaction on a government site.

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project, Government Online, examines how Americans use digital media to connect with government—what’s working, and what isn’t. This report could help news organizations and other community-building ventures spot opportunities to add value to (or fill gaps in) online civic engagement. Beyond web sites, it also discusses social media, mobile media, and e-mail.

...And, in case you missed it, KDMC’s recent civic engagement series suggested many specific ways that news orgs can help communities function better within a democracy.

June 01, 2010

Online reputation management: New Pew report

If you’ve been following or covering the recent Facebook privacy settings flap, you may wonder “How much do people really care about online privacy? What do they want to protect?”

Aside from not wanting your boss to learn via Twitter that you’re chilling out at the beach despite calling out sick, or not wanting to advertise your recent diabetes diagnosis while shopping for new health insurance, reputation management is perhaps the main reason why many people care about online privacy.

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project offers data on reputation management and social media…

Read the report summary, or download the full report, to learn how Americans are managing their online reputations—and the tradeoffs inherent in their decisions about what to make public or keep private.

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