March 26, 2014

The Revenue Picture for American Journalism and How It Is Changing

Conclusion

In the trajectory of economic disruption for the news system, we have reached a point where some newer forms are beginning to have an impact and may contain long-term potential. We have also seen the innovation and dollars for those coming more from individuals or organizations new to news. For now, though, it is still both the traditional sectors and the traditional forms that account for most of the revenue supporting news gathering in the United States.

A next part of the equation to explore is how revenues are being spent today as technology needs within an organization butt up against the costs of journalists on staff. Digital news startups are free of the legacy infrastructure that runs up expenses at print and broadcast outlets. They do not have plants, delivery trucks or broadcast towers and transmitters to consider, or aging real estate. The cost of newsgathering may even be cheaper, too, as non-institutional journalistic activity runs on a mix of professionals (without pensions), freelancers, amateurs, public data and aggregation/curation. Nonetheless, technology can be very expensive, both its purchase and upkeep, as each new iteration often means reprogramming, re-archiving and transitioning to new tools and equipment.

The cost of running a digital-native news organization, as compared to a legacy one, is a question for another report. But as long as journalism remains a profession, it will cost money to produce.