Pew: The New Washington Press Corps

From Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism: The New Washington Press Corps: As Mainstream Media Decline, Niche and Foreign Outlets Grow (11 February 2009):

Read the headlines and it would be easy to conclude that as the new Obama Administration takes power, facing an array of domestic and international crises, it will be monitored by a substantially depleted Washington press corps.

It isn’t exactly so. 

The corps of journalists covering Washington D.C. at the dawn of the Obama Administration is not so much smaller as it is dramatically transformed. And that transformation will markedly alter what Americans know and not know about the new government, as well as who will know it and who will not.

A careful accounting of the numbers, plus detailed interviews with journalists, lawmakers, press association executives and government officials, reveals that what we once thought of as the mainstream news media serving a general public has indeed shrunk—perhaps far more than many would imagine. A roll call of the numbers may shock.

But as the mainstream media have shrunk, a new sector of niche media has grown in its place, offering more specialized and detailed information than the general media to smaller, elite audiences, often built around narrowly targeted financial, lobbying and political interests. …

… it is clear that editors now believe national reporting is less important to their charge than they once did. A survey conducted by Project for Excellence in Journalism earlier this year found a definite ambivalence to national news among newsroom executives far from the nation’s capital. Less than one in five (18%) of the 259 editors responding to the survey considered national news “very essential” to their news product. By comparison, 97% viewed local news as “very essential.” …

Elites who are plugged into the new fragmented niche media of Washington will know how that government is growing and what it means, and they will be learning it through new media channels. Their fellow citizens who rely on local or network television or their daily newspapers, however, will be harder pressed to learn what their elected representatives are doing.


Read the whole article here, it’s definitely worth reading.