The State of Journalism

“The problem facing American journalism is not fundamentally an audience problem or a credibility problem,” according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. “It is a revenue problem.” Quality journalism is an essential public service and has always been subsidized. But with newspaper ad revenues plummeting 23 percent in the last two years, the ad-subsidy model no longer works. Online news Web traffic, on the other hand, has jumped 19 percent in the last two years. “Freedom of the press” from government censorship means little without preservation of the fourth estate.

Decrease in weekday newspaper circulation in the United States since 2001.
Increase in traffic for the top 50 news Web sites in 2008. The top four sites—Yahoo,,, and AOL—had an increase of 22 percent in unique visitors per month.
Number of newsroom jobs that were cut in 2008. By the end of 2009, American newsrooms were estimated to employ just 75 percent of the staff they had in 2001.
Decline in newspaper ad revenue in 2008. Online ad sales also fell, amounting by the end of 2008 to less than 10 percent of revenue.
Source: “The State of the News Media: An Annual Report on American Journalism” (Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2009).

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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