Newspapers across the country still have a pulse … but just barely, says the Pew Research Center.

In the recently released State of the News Media 2012, an annual report on American journalism, newspapers are introduced with these somewhat comforting, somewhat damning words: “The newspaper industry enters 2012 neither dying nor assured of a stable future.”

State of the News Media is always an enlightening read. Covering the broad range of news media from TV to websites, the report does its due diligence in crunching numbers and giving probing, readable analysis.

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Yet as you can imagine, it can be an uncomfortable experience for those of us in the industry.

Consider this stat: “When circulation and advertising revenue are combined, the newspaper industry has shrunk 43 percent since 2000.” It’s enough to make the journalist pick up his laptop and heave it into Lake Tahoe.

But wait, reporter, hold onto that laptop, hear this first: A Stanford study found that community newspapers are weathering the storm much better. A 2010 survey for the National Newspaper Association produced enviable statistics: More than three-quarters of respondents said they read most or all of a local newspaper every week. That’s an impressive stat — when do 75 percent of people agree on anything?

Americans seek quality information and readers are loyal to their sources, says the Pew Report. While analysts once believed that social media would become a driving force for where people got their news, it has not had the impact they believed. Most readers still collect their news by going directly to a news organization, again and again.

Thus the problem facing newspapers is not readership, but revenue. It’s a stiff challenge that has the chance to beget great things. It’s time for creativity, innovation, and adherence to quality.

Against all odds, Moonshine Ink continues to grow. I believe this quote from Ayman Mohyeldin, an NBC News foreign correspondent, speaks to why: “There’s a difference between information and knowledge. If a bomb goes off in Afghanistan, people can read about it instantly on Twitter but they won’t be able to know what it means. Where did it come from? Who did it? What’s happening over there? That is what journalism can do.”
 

Author

  • Mayumi Peacock

    Hailing from a U.S. military family and a graduate of the University of Florida, Mayumi Peacock has lived in several corners of the country and globe, yet Tahoe/Truckee has been her home since 1999. She is founder and publisher of Moonshine Ink, the region’s award-winning independent newspaper, which continues to be created by, for, and of the community. Other passions include family, animals, books, healthy living, and humane food.

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