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Pew Poll finds pessimism among media editors

Most working editors believe that broadcast and newspaper journalism is in decline, and half believe that their employers will go out of business if they do not find new sources of revenue, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

About half of the editors said that without a significant new income stream, their organizations could not remain solvent for more than 10 years. Thirty-one percent gave the media organizations five years or less. Broadcast editors took a significantly darker view of what is happening to the quality of journalism than their print counterparts.

The Pew Research Center’s “Project for Excellence in Journalism” polled members of two industry groups, the Radio Television Digital News Association and the American Society of News Editors. It received 353 sets of responses to the survey, conducted in December and January.

In an era of shrinking newsrooms, almost 60 percent of the editors said journalism is headed in the wrong direction. Sixty-two percent said the Internet had changed the profession’s fundamental values, with most citing a loosening of standards.

When asked why the industry was in such trouble, nearly half the editors said that in good times, the demands for profit margins were excessive, while many others said their organizations were too slow to embrace and invest in the Internet.

Despite the pessimism, about three-quarters of the editors who took part said they would have serious objections to accepting direct support from either the government or interest groups, and a similar number said their organizations had not seriously thought about taking donations from nonprofit groups.