Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has just released its State of the News Media 2008.

This is a "must read" report if your role includes getting your nonprofit’s message disseminated to the public. The report discusses important changes in how news reporting occurs, what gets produced, and what consumers seem to be looking for.

Some trends to note:

  • News is shifting from being a product to becoming a service. More consumers are looking to patch together their own newsview from a variety of sources. And the emphasis is more on incremental updates than in-depth coverage.
  • While top mainstream media still dominate online news readership, increasingly they must position themselves as gateways to additional information from other, even competing, sources. Readers are not content, for example, with just going to ABC or the NY Times for their singular "take" on the news … they want to be led from those sources to other relevant and credible sources … their interest is the story, not the outlet.
  • User-created content has not yet become the killer app. Suggestions for new ideas, sources, occasional pictures or video, yes … but citizen posted content (other than comments), no.
  • The "newshole" continues to be dominated by a very few topics — in 2007, the war in Iraq and the 2008 presidential campaign. Despite the proliferation of online outlets, other issues struggle to get other than the tiniest share of media attention.

The report looks separately at newspapers, magazines, network TV, local TV, cable TV, radio, online and ethnic media. It also includes an interesting survey of journalists and how they see the future.

If you’re a communicator, this report addresses your future!

Tom

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