Major national poll finds 70% of U.S. believe newspaper journalists are out of touch with reality — Newspapers are now the last source of news at only 10%

Mick Gregory

Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe traditional journalism is out of touch, and nearly half are turning to the Internet to get their news, according to a new survey.

While most adults think all forms of journalism are important to the quality of life, 64 percent are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities, a “We Media/Zogby Interactive” online poll showed.

Nearly half of the 1,979 adults who took the survey said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, up from 40 percent just a year ago. Less than 1/3 watch television to get their news, while 11 percent listen to radio and 10 percent read newspapers.

Newspapers are now at the bottom of the heap. What is the NYT trading at today? Next…

The New York Times Co.’s continued struggles with declining advertising revenue, circutlation, unehtical yellow journalism smear tactics and the bling support for the old guard, the Clinton machine, prompted Standard and Poor’s to caution Friday that it is inching closer to cutting the company’s debt ratings. That is a rare and serious threat.

The office at Standard & Poor’s said it placed all of the New York Times’ ratings, including its key long-term corporate credit rating, on CreditWatch with negative implications. In plain English, that means the rating agency is leaning heavily toward a downgrade unless current financial trends at the company improve.

Why the drop? A dissident investor stepped up pressure on The New York Times Co. Friday, formally proposing its own slate of four directors and saying the company needs to take more drastic action to compete online.
Harbinger Capital, an investment firm that now owns about 19 percent of the company, filed its own proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission listing its nominees for directors to be elected at the Times’ annual meeting April 22.

The Times has already filed its own full slate of director nominees, but has said it was still considering whether to accept Harbinger’s candidates.

Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said the company’s board was interviewing the Harbinger nominees. She declined to comment further on their proxy filing.

The looming proxy battle comes as the Times and other U.S. newspapers are facing huge challenges in adapting to the steady migration of readers and advertising dollars to the Internet. An economic slowdown coupled with a deep slump in the housing market is worsening the situation.

Earlier Friday, the Times reported that its newspaper advertising fell 11.4 percent in January, with a 22.6 percent dropoff in classified advertising, a once cash cow business for newspapers that is vulnerable to competition from online rivals like Craigslist, eBay and Yahoo.

The New York Times is hedging its future. They are big investors in WordPress.com.

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