Media Production

Why Old Media Still Matters

A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism reveals that 95% of news stories with fresh information came from “old media” and the vast majority of that from newspapers.  For all the buzz that social media generates, it’s not time to say goodbye to traditional media yet.  The study showed that about two-third’s of original stories came from newspapers, 28% came from TV, and 7% from radio.  Digital-only outlets accounted for a measly 4% of original news.

That’s one of the reasons we should be worried about the massive collapse of the newspaper industry.  The Baltimore Sun for instance produced 72% fewer stories in 2009 than it did in 1991.  The truth is, newspapers have always been the driving force behind investigative reporting and original material in America.  While there are plenty of online attempts, so far, the vast majority are only aggregators of news that’s already been presented online.

I have a friend who used to be a producer for a major news network in New York.  She told me that our local evening TV news is simply copied off the front page of the New York Times.  So even in the age of TV news, it was largely driven by print.

The question now is – as consumers move from newspapers to the online world, who will pay for the investigative reporting?  Who for instance, will fund the effort to keep us informed of corruption in government?  So far, there are lots of bloggers with opinions (like me), but very few who can afford to dig, research, and investigate important stories.

Any suggestions out there?

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  1. Completely agree about Traditional media still being a huge factor.  In the book world traditional media still really moves the needle in terms of sales.  All the dialogue about online news struggling to turn profit plays a huge factor as well.  Some traditional outlets as they struggle are saying down the line journalist’s (real ones) will only be paid based on click throughs of their articles read online.  Interesting…which lends itself to more fluff news just to grab eyeballs.

    My guess is investigative reporting will only be done as a side job when reporters can catch a break from their day job of grabbing eyeballs. 

  2. The question now is – as consumers move from newspapers to the online world, who will pay for the investigative reporting?

    The Grand Unified Conspiracy Theorists and Celebrity Spinmeisters, of course.

  3. Yay!!! Good Bye and Good Riddance to content delivered via paper and ink.


    ps: (Or transmitter.) What is radio and/or TV anyway ~ just a transmission signal?


    pps: The sky is NOT falling.


    ~ 2pt0

  4. I think there are a couple of ways this can be done. A company will need to come along and initially get the stories and pictures that other media outlets aren’t getting. This seems to be how TMZ was able to make a name for itself. Then, an investment group would need to come along and add financial backing to the media company, so it can grow.

    The other option would be for many traditional newspapers to go strictly to electronic media. That way they could save a lot of money, because they wouldn’t need to worry about printing and distribution costs. 

  5. Jeff Jarvis ( and Jay Rosen ( are two of the people on the forefront of thinking up new, entrepreneurial ways to fund grassroots journalism. I’d recommend reading and paying attention to what they’re talking about (hyper-local). And I’d also suggest that perhaps the crash we’re seeing now in print journalism is a result of a bad business model (or models) and, therefore, inevitable to some degree.

    <p>Sure, there’s a pretty big downside to it, which you outlined nicely in your blog post, but there’s also huge opportunities for people to be innovative and create new journalistic ventures. Journalism isn’t going away. The print medium/platform for distribution is fading and digital (Web/mobile/e-reader/etc.) is on the rise. This transition is going to be (and already is) tumultous, but it’s sort of exciting all at the same time. 

  6. Phil,

    I totally agree that if you want to get a story out there, get it in your newspaper first.

    If you can secure good coverage in the newspaper everyone else will follow. In Melbourne, Australia where I live I see this everyday on the radio and TV. Especially with the radio in the morning, they pull off the top stories from our local broadsheet or tabloid and run with them.

    Strategic opportunities for churches:

    1) Do everything you can to cultivate relationships with your local journo in print media because if you can get your story in print the likelyhood of being on the TV and Radio will increase.

    2) Look at what stories your newspapers are printing and does that align with any of their stories. Prepare a very rich people heavy story and proactively contact those journalists who wrote the similar story.



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