Pew: Local TV news following in print's footsteps

Interesting survey conducted annually by the Pew Reserach Center. For 2012, the pollsters discovered that local TV news is suffering from "skrinking pains."

New York Times:

With shorter stories and scarce coverage of politics and government, local television newscasts in the United States, like local newspapers before them, are suffering from "shrinking pains," according to the Pew Research Center.

The diagnosis comes in the center's 10th annual State of the News Media report, which will be published on Monday. The report, covering 2012, describes cutbacks in the reporting ranks of newspapers and television networks and a surge in efforts by politicians, corporations and others to tell their own stories.

"This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands," the report's main author, Amy Mitchell, wrote in an introduction.

The report also highlighted the results of a new Pew survey that asked Americans whether they had heard much about the financial challenges that the news industry faces, like the steep decline in newspaper advertising revenue.

Sixty percent of the respondents said they had heard little or nothing, indicating that "awareness of the industry's financial struggles is limited," the report said. But some have sensed the results: 31 percent of respondents said they "have stopped turning to a news outlet because it no longer provided them with the news they were accustomed to getting."

The report's authors did find, as in prior years, a robust public appetite for news. Digital news sources are now used daily by 50 percent of Americans, according to Pew's survey, making the Internet nearly as important a source as television. Mobile phones and tablets were mostly responsible for the surge in digital news consumption.

I know that local TV news in Chicago has become nearly unwatchable. In a city where corrupt politics cries out to be exposed, precious little is done by the local media to uncover wrong doing.

They made a half hearted attempt to vet Obama back in 2008, with a few reporters actually trying to get to the bottom of some local scandals that are still waiting to be explained.Obama's house purchase with the assistance of convicted felon Tony Rezko is chief among them.

But ultimately, almost all of them have moved on to cover more salacious items. You can't blame them. In a capitalist economy they need to gather viewers and if they are forced to cover fluf stories as a way to survive, that is the citizen's bad luck.