Traditional Media Losing Touch

Last Updated Mar 24, 2008 2:47 PM EDT

Inside the voluminous State of the News Media, 2008, report, mentioned here recently, is a fascinating sub-section that captures the essence of why Internet news sites are supplanting "old media" platforms from a content perspective.

And, while media execs talk endlessly about the production and distribution advantages enjoyed by online, by and large they assume that newspapers and TV news networks continue to hold the upper hand when it comes to wise content selection.

As one who's worked for news media on both sides of tech divide for many years, I disagree. Decision-makers inside online news organizations recognize that their audiences are increasingly global in nature and that their news interests are global as well.

"At least in their top five stories, which is roughly analogous to the number of stories found on a front page of a newspaper ... the leading Web sites studied put a premium on international news that far outweighed any other medium," according to the State of the Media report. "Fully 25% of the top coverage dealt with non-U.S. international stories. This was nearly six times that of cable (4%), three times that of commercial network evening news and the network morning news (8%), nearly twice that of newspapers (13%), and about 60% more than radio news programming (15%)."

In addition, the report found that another quarter of the online news space was devoted to U.S.-international events, again more than any other platform.

No wonder that nearly 70 percent of Americans surveyed by Zogby recently believe traditional journalism is out of touch, with nearly half turning to the Internet to get their news.

Just under half of the people who responded to the survey said their primary source of news is the Internet, compared to less than one third who said television 11 percent radio and 10 percent newspapers.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital,, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.