US news industry sees big revenue loss: study

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US news media revenues have tumbled by roughly a third since 2006 amid a shift to digital media, researchers said Thursday.

The Pew Research Center estimated annual revenues supporting print, broadcast and online journalism have slipped to between US$63 billion (S$79.6 billion) and US$65 billion, based on 2012-2013 data.

That compared with US$94 billion to US$95 billion in 2006, the Pew researchers said.

The analysis gleaned from Pew's annual survey of the news media underscored the massive changes in the industry.

The data showed "advertising dollars declining and audience payments, in the form of subscriptions, for example, comprising a bigger share," said research associate Jesse Holcomb.

Between 2006 and 2012, about 17,000 full-time newspaper newsroom jobs were lost, based on figures from the American Society of News Editors.

The industry has had to become less reliant on advertising as those revenues decline.

"In 2006, print and digital advertising accounted for fully 82 per cent of all known revenue tied to professional newsgathering," Mr Holcomb said. "Today, advertising still accounts for a majority of news revenue, but amounts to 69 per cent of the revenue pie, more than half of which comes from the newspaper industry whose ad revenue declined 55 per cent from 2006 to 2012."

Holcomb said newspaper circulation revenue showed an uptick in 2012 of around five per cent after five years of decline, in part due to "paywalls" or digital subscriptions.

Some news organizations are using new models for revenue, getting funding from foundation grants, events and digital marketing services, as well as direct investments from venture capital.

"Few industry analysts expect the advertising revenue that's been lost in recent years to come flooding back to news organizations," he said. "While audience revenue is becoming more critical to the business, it cannot fully compensate for the loss of ad dollars.

"That is why most conversations about news sustainability come back to 'all of the above' - cultivating a variety of revenue streams, including non-traditional ones, and experimenting with new ways of paying for journalism," he added.

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