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Online News Up, Editorial Process Down

Posted by Janett Perry on Mar 23, 2010 7:33:00 AM
news up edit down resized 600The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism recently revealed its ‘State of the News Media Industry 2010‘ report, which details the various trends in American journalism.

One of the continued trends from previous years was the decline of traditional print circulation:  

“In the latest period, September, industry-wide circulation fell 10.6% from a year earlier. Those come on top of losses of 4.6% in 2008. ”

Most attribute this continued decline in print circulation to the explosive growth of online news outlets, as well as the consumer’s evolving need for instant on-demand news.  

The report highlighted the traction of online news with several high profile statistics, including a yearly unique visitor increase of 9.25% among 4,600 online news sites.

The State of News Media Report reveals some very alarming points when juxtaposed with a recent survey by Columbia Journalism Review.  The CJR survey, titled ‘Tangled Web,’ highlights how web magazines are forfeiting journalistic standards to meet the demand of a new online medium.  

The survey examined the editorial process by polling nearly three thousand consumer magazines that have now targeted online distribution methods.

Some of the findings of the CJR survey present an alarming outlook on the future of journalistic integrity:

“59 percent of those surveyed said that either there was no copy editing whatsoever online (11 percent), or that copy editing is less rigorous than in the print edition.”

The CJR article goes on to speculate that the online news business model may be to blame for a less stringent editorial process: attracting the maximum number of  web page viewers to fulfill advertising revenue potential.  

This fact combined with the exponential growth of online media is outright scary.

Old Media outlets that are transitioning to an online format need to realize that lapses in journalistic standards will eventually deteriorate the real golden egg they bring online – original content.  

New tools like iThenticate’s plagiarism checker need to be adapted into the editorial process to ensure unique content and journalistic integrity remain at the forefront of news media.


Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. “The State of the News Media 2010, Overview” 15 Mar. 2010

Navasky, Victor & Lerner, Evan. “Tangled Web” Columbia Journalism Review Mar. 2010.