MediaFile

The good news & bad news about news consumption on tablets

There is some heartening data and some other data that should strike fear in the hearts of publishing executives about how people consume news on tablet devices, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Project in Excellence in Journalism and the Economist Group.

Let’s get to the rosy stuff first. The survey polled about 1,200 tablet users and 900 people  who use them to read the news. It turns out that consuming news — defined as skimming headlines to hunkering down and reading long-form articles –  is one of the most popular tablet activities (at 53%) nearly edging out sending emails (at 54%) but definitely whopping social media activity (39%), gaming (17%), reading books (17%) and watching videos (13%).

But the apps aren’t pulling in the most readers. Interestingly, while two-thirds of those surveyed have news apps, about 40% of those polled said they get their news through web browsers compared to only 21% who get their news through apps.  For newspapers this piece of information should be a wake up call to keep pricing consistent.  (Magazines would fit in this category though most don’t have a decent websites.)

If a publisher is going to charge for an application — and why not? — they should also have some sort of pay strategy in place for the website. Otherwise people are going to circumvent the app and just go straight to the browser for free news. Thus the publication once again misses another potential revenue opportunity.

Now for the bad news. The study found that “revenue potential for news on the tablet may be limited.” Here’s why: Just 14 percent of tablet news users have paid to access the news. Those who have news apps said that being free or low cost was a major factor in their decision to download the app in the first place.

The state of the news media? Not so hot

The Project for Excellence in Journalism published its sixth annual State of the News Media report on Monday. The report, at 800 pages and 180,000 words, is a monster. The news media that it’s analyzing, however, is turning into something quite a bit smaller.

The group, along with its chief, Tom Rosenstiel, has provided a snapshot of where the news industry is today, though with an industry so large, a snapshot this size is impossible to condense into one little blog, let alone a story for the wire. If you’re looking to wallow, dig in to the specifics, follow this link.

Here, meanwhile, are some of the introductory remarks and top findings of the study, mostly in the study’s own words. Warning: These findings are not suitable for your friends in journalism who are struggling to maintain their sense of self-worth.

Presidential candidates: Love ‘em and Lehman

Media coverage of the U.S. presidential race has not so much cast Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed Republican opponent John McCain in a negative one.

That’ s the verbatim conclusion of a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that analyzes the way the press has covered the campaign.

The report shows that negative stories about Arizona Sen. McCain has been decidedly unfavorable and has worsened over time, with negative stories about him outnumbering favorable Obama stories by more than three to one.

WSJ Page One, now with 53 percent less Wall Street!

murdoch-chart-3.jpgMany Wall Street Journal watchers bemoan new owner Rupert Murdoch’s greater emphasis on political and general news coverage in the paper, but so far their evidence has been anecdotal.

Not anymore! The Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) furnished numbers that give an exact percentage on the decrease in business news that gets on the front page of the nation’s most powerful business daily. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Under the Murdoch regime, the single biggest change in front-page coverage occurred with politics and the presidential campaign. From Dec. 13, 2007 through March 13, 2008, coverage more than tripled, jumping to 18% of the newshole compared with 5% in the four months before the ownership change.