Newsroom budget cuts create a downward spiral

As more publications close, a new study finds few readers get the connection between funding and good coverage.

By Bruce Kennedy Mar 18, 2013 3:04PM

Image: Newspaper on front step of house (© Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images)Here's another sad milestone, if you're a fan of interesting, informative and investigative news: One more city is losing an important local news outlet.

The Boston Phoenix, the alternative weekly magazine, announced last week it would cease publication after 47 years.

In a letter to staffers, Phoenix publisher Stephen Mindich cited the rising challenges print media advertising has faced in recent years as the journalism landscape has radically changed and the established outlets deal with the ongoing economic sluggishness.

"Despite the valiant effort by many, many past and current staff to attempt to stabilize and, in fact, reverse our significant financial losses," he said, "we have been unable to do so and they are no longer sustainable."

A news release by the magazine's parent company, Phoenix Media, said that while the publication still has a strong local audience and advertising base, a years-long decline in national advertising dollars was the last financial straw.

The demise of the Boston Phoenix coincides with interesting new data from the Pew Research Center's annual State of the News Media report. It says the public is turning its collective back on established news organizations, which many consumers feel are dropping the ball when it comes to covering important stories. But Pew also notes that most news consumers don't get the connection between a lack of in-depth reporting and years of dramatic newsroom budget cuts.

A new public opinion survey, released with the report, found nearly one-third of respondents said they "deserted" a particular news outlet, "because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to."

Those who abandoned their traditional news sources tend to be older, well educated and wealthier than average. In other words, the survey notes, "they are people who tend to be more prone to consume and pay for news."

At the same time, more than a third of those Pew surveyed said they knew "nothing at all" about the news media's ongoing financial struggles -- or the impact those economic woes might have on the coverage of local, national and international news.

The report says a growing erosion of professionally produced news and a public disdain for those kind of news outlets, "adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands."

Which leads to another question: Does society today need a professional news sector, or can we get by with individual blogs, TV talking heads and information passed on via friends, family and connections on social media?

More on moneyNOW

Mar 18, 2013 8:35PM
Why do we need newspapers when  we can trust everything we read on the internet . The other benefit of  just reading blogs etc is we can find one that only tells us what we want to hear.  Americans only want to read stuff they agree with ,  so why waste time reading opposing views .
Mar 18, 2013 4:54PM

The Orange County (Calif.) Register is expanding its paper edition with new features and employees.  Go figure.

Mar 19, 2013 12:30PM
I can use the Internet to find out Lindsay Lohan's latest antics.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: -6.60. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: -14.50. The S&P 500 futures trade seven points below fair value.

Markets across most of Asia ended on a lower note, while Japan's Nikkei was closed for Autumn Equinox.

  • Economic data was limited: 
    • China's HSBC Manufacturing PMI ticked up to 50.5 from 50.2 (expected 50.0) 
    • Singapore's CPI eased to 0.9% year-over-year (expected 1.2%; previous ... More