Media Trends and Opportunities Abound in Pew Research

With the 24/7 nature of news reporting, we constantly see breaking news alerts on our smartphones and online, and according to a new study, we’re commenting about news a lot more frequently than we used to. We’re also headed for more sports- and weather-related news, less governmental news and shrinking media budgets. These are just a few of the insights from the State of the News Media 2013, Pew Research Center’s 10th annual report on American journalism.

The report offers an analysis of the major trends in news from 2012, including special reports about the 2012 presidential campaign and the changing TV news landscape. Here are a few key findings from the Pew study and opportunities for your media outreach efforts:

  • Trend: Commentary increases – Commentary and opinion dominate the cable airwaves throughout the day over traditional news reporting (63% vs. 37%), with MSNBC ranking first in percent of coverage dedicated to opinion and commentary (85% vs. 15% for reporting).
    • Opportunity: Offer in-studio segments with experts who can provide compelling discussions about timely news subjects. These interviews require little budget expense from media because they don’t have to travel on location or spend money on a satellite feed from an event. But, they can still provide breadth and depth of discussion for reporters.
  • Trend: Sports rules, weather stories storm forward – Reporting on sports, weather and traffic on local newscasts increased from 32 percent to 40 percent, with sports jumping to 12 percent from seven percent. In fact, four-in-10 newscasts led with a weather story in 2012.
    • Opportunity: Find ways to tie your story to sports or weather trends. For example, a FIRST (client) Robotics Competition team from a Long Island high school lost its robotics lab to Hurricane Sandy. They moved to a neighboring school, built their robot within the competition’s six-week timeframe and made it to their regional FIRST competition. We now have interest from a national TV outlet to follow this team to the FIRST World Championship.
  • Trend: Word of mouth is making a bigger impact – Nearly three-quarters (72%) of the 2,000 consumers surveyed say they hear about news from family and friends through good, old-fashioned chats by phone or face-to-face conversations. But, social media are rising as a driver of news, especially among Millennials. Although 15 percent of consumers get most of their news from family and friends via Twitter and Facebook, that number spikes to about a quarter among 18-25 year olds. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of those who get news from family and friends from conversations “often” or “very often” go on to research the news story for more information.
    • Opportunity: Extend the life of your traditional news placement by posting it on Facebook with a question, inviting a two-way dialogue for consumers and word-of-mouth traction for your client. Also, create guest blog posts about your client’s news on popular sites that offer commentary postings.  

The media landscape is rapidly evolving and consumers are moving around the Web and through their personal channels to find news. The Pew study once again pinpoints these and other developing trends that will keep us media mavens in sync and up-to-date with the latest changes that can impact our clients. Accordingly, media pros should remain nimble and look for a variety of ways to push their best headlines through various channels and creative initiatives.

--Maureen O’Connell, Senior Account Supervisor


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