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TODD SMITH — State of the news media from Pew Research Center

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

Following a recession that sent the U.S. newspaper industry into a tailspin, the pressures facing America’s newsrooms have transformed the entire industry, and impacts the experiences of even those news consumers unaware of the mammoth shifts taking place, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

In 2015, the newspaper sector had perhaps the worst year since the recession and its immediate aftermath. Average weekday newspaper circulation, print and digital combined, fell another seven percent in 2015, the greatest decline since 2010. While digital circulation crept up slightly (2 percent for weekday), it accounts for only 22 percent of total circulation. And any digital subscription gains or traffic increases have still not translated into game-changing revenue solutions. In 2015, total advertising revenue among publicly traded companies declined nearly 8 percent, including losses not just in print, but digital as well.

The three television-based news sectors face serious challenges but have benefitted from the fact that despite all the growth in digital, including a surge in digital video developments over the last year, large swaths of the public – and thus advertisers – remain drawn to TV. Cable and network TV both saw revenue growth in 2015. Network TV grew ad revenues by 6 percent in the evening and 14 percent in the morning. Cable increased both ad revenue and subscriber revenue for a total growth of 10 percent and saw profit gains as well. Local ad revenue, which follows a cyclical pattern tied to election-year ad spending, was down compared with the election year of 2014 but on par with the last non-election year of 2013 and higher than the last presidential primary year (2011). Additionally, retransmission revenue is expected to reach $6.3 billion in 2015, five times that of 2010.

How NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ is tapping younger audiences

For years, it was enough for the Sunday political talk shows to own the conversation for a single day on television. But if they want to reach the next generation — that gets its news on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – they have to own social media around the clock, too, according to Digiday.

NBC’s “Meet the Press” realized this two years ago when it brought on a senior producer to overhaul the show’s approach to digital media.

The producer has focused on Facebook, the biggest social network, which is where “Meet the Press” has its biggest following. “Meet the Press” started doing Facebook Q&As in which the show’s host Chuck Todd answers questions from the audience, occasionally using Facebook Live. On average, 829 people tune in to the Q&As. On Sunday after the show airs, “Meet the Press” posts a 2-minute video distillation called “Compressed,” which have been averaging 53,500 views each.

Todd runs a separate digital political news unit, which also was rebranded as “Meet the Press,” giving the brand another outlet to grow its awareness.

The results have been dramatic: While “Meet the Press” viewership has declined over the years (though it’s improved lately and was close to CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in May), its Facebook following has more than doubled to 321,297 as of May, well ahead of its closest competitor, “Fox News Sunday,” which has 200,965 fans, according to Socialbakers. “Meet the Press” is posting an average of 281 times a month, up from 50 times two years ago, according to the show’s internal numbers. Total monthly interactions on those posts have soared, too, to more than 115,000 as of May from less than 15,000 two years ago.

Meet the Press” isn’t alone among the Sunday political talk shows in trying to use social media to connect with an audience in between broadcasts. CNN’s “State of the Union” uses social media to promote the show starting on Fridays and then pushes out clips, repackaged for Facebook with text overlay. “The main thing about ‘State of the Union’ is we don’t look at it as a standalone TV event,” CNN’s social media head Samantha Barry told Digiday. “It’s not just a Sunday play for us.” “Fox News Sunday” has been soliciting viewer questions during the week, live tweeting the show and running clips during the week of host Chris Wallace’s other journalistic activities.

Facebook and Twitter are the primary platforms shows use to reach social audiences; they’re still figuring out how to translate their hard-news brands to the more playful, visual platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. CNN’s “State of the Union” has a segment, “State of the Cartoon-ion,” in which host Jake Tapper draws political cartoons, which are posted to Instagram. Fox uses Vine and Instagram to show what goes on behind the scenes on set, but hasn’t ventured into Facebook Live or Snapchat. “Meet the Press” has dabbled with Facebook Live, but hasn’t figured out the best way to use it that doesn’t duplicate what it’s doing on TV.

Canned Mic | Spotify hits film festival to hawk ad tech

Tech company executives take the stage every year at Cannes to convince media buyers and marketers that their platforms deserve ad dollars, and this year it was Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s turn to show advertisers his company is more than just a subscription music service.

Until now, Spotify’s free product has been seen mostly as a way to push fans toward signing up for the ad-free, paid version. But Spotify recently brought on a handful of new ad executives from places like CNN and Vevo as it aims to ink big deals with the major ad holding companies. Spotify has 100 million active monthly users globally (including 30 million paid subscribers), meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to make money from nonsubscribers, too. The push has affected the internal mind-set at the company, with all of Spotify’s tech and product employees required to use the free product for a five-day period a few weeks ago.

Spotify – like its social media cousins Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – is trying to connect with its audience in new ways, and for that, it gets a well-deserved Cannes Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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