State of The Media 2019

David Hazinski had the honor of moderating a panel on the media for Leadership Atlanta last week, made up of midlevel managers from a variety of Atlanta corporations. The panel included folks from CNN, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 11Alive (Tegna), and Atlanta urban radio. They asked for a quick “state of the media”, which we are sharing here.

  • Bigger is now… much bigger. Six media companies control a lot of what we see, both entertainment and news.
  • A small numbers of corporations also control most local TV stations. Gray Television is acquiring Raycom and will control 150 TV stations in 91 markets. Nexstar is acquiring Tribune Media’s stations and will control 200 television stations.
  • Radio still has significant audiences. The most popular shows in America are news and talk. I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to learn Rush Limbaugh has the highest ratings. What you might be surprised to learn is that NPR shows… Marketplace, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition have very similar ratings to Right Wing Programs like Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Generally about 15 million people a day listen to each.
  • Newspapers are fighting to survive, and losing. The Pew Research Center says newspaper audiences, both print and digital, are still declining. It says newsroom employment dropped 23% between 2008 and 2017, mostly from newspapers. It’s a mixed picture though. Digital subscriptions for the New York Times are up to 4.3 million. Digital subscriptions are a growing revenue source and they have to be.
  • 63% of all online advertising revenue is going to two companies, neither of them content producers: Google and Facebook. If you include Amazon, 70% is going to three companies, none of whom produce content. 

And that brings up a shift in audiences and how they consume news.


Fewer people are now getting their news via TV, and that’s age specific. Most of my students at UGA didn’t even own TV’s. Pew Research says it’s down from 57% to 49%. People get as much news as they used to over radio, more now from news websites, but more people are now getting news from social media than newspapers. And, of course, combinations of all the the above.

So the whole landscape has shifted. I want to bring up one more marker before opening this up to the panel: Trust.


In January, Pew Research found 3/4’s of Republicans thought the media doesn’t understand people like them. These findings cross all media viewing habits and demographics. A Knight study in December said 9 of 10 Republicans have lost faith in the media. In a Reuters polls a couple of weeks ago, about half the people surveyed said they didn’t have any confidence in the press. Only a quarter said it is unbiased. 35% of Republicans think the media are often paid by their sources. Another Knight study last month said people are losing faith in most democratic systems. It’s not all bad news.

Trust is increasing in traditional media over social media. A study this year by a group called Digital Content Next shows 65% of people trust traditional media, 34% social media. Other research shows that more older Americans are often fooled by “fake news” than younger audiences. And people are paying more attention to news.

New research shows radio as the most trusted media in general. About 3/4’s of the audience trust particularly local TV news and local newspapers. Antidotally, and according to more research, trust in media is going up, not down.

So this is a pretty complicated landscape. Trust is up for local media even though the vast majority aren’t locally owned anymore. The audience is moving to mobile and digital, but the revenue models there give most of the money to Google and Facebook. Cable looks like the centerpiece for the news media, but it isn’t. People aren’t watching or trusting cable news the most.

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