News Media

January, 2016
Brian Watson, Founder and CEO of the Opportunity Coalition

These remarks proceeded a presentation from guest speaker Mr. Jared Wright, Publisher and CEO of the Colorado Statesman.

I’d like to open the evening with a few remarks about media.

I’m very excited to spend the evening dialoguing on this topic of news media together. Without a doubt, news media has faced significant challenges and various new obstacles in the last decade, from the serious struggle of print media circulation, readership, and ad revenue and the rise of the digital information era. There’s ever-increasing cynicism in public attitude and perception of the news in general.

Thankfully, our speaker this evening is working hard toward positive solutions here in Colorado from one of our state’s oldest publications, The Colorado Statesman, which was founded in 1898.

Before we invite Jared up, I’d like to share a few highlights and trends about what’s going on right now in the world of media…

First, to what could be labeled the “crisis” in print media.

The number of daily newspapers published in the United States has been falling steadily. Last year, there were 1,382 dailies on the market, down from 1,676 just a few years earlier. Investment in newspaper advertising is also dwindling. According to eMarketer, it will amount to about 16.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, over $4 billion less than it did in 2011.

In 2015, 63% of Americans said FB and Twitter were a main if not the main source for their news consumption, largely rejecting regular print media readership. 

But who’s still the biggest in the print world?

The Wall Street Journal and USA Today regularly vie for the top spot in circulation each year, followed up by the obvious publications like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, and The Washington Post.

On a neat positive note, it’s worth pointing out that our own Denver Post consistently makes the Top 10 list of the most widely circulated papers in the country.

For those that miss the Rocky Mountain News… you know why.

This chart measures the percentage nationally who read any daily newspaper the day before. 

It’s affecting all ages, all demographics, and where they get their news.

Economically speaking, as we so often do here at the Opportunity Coalition, the number of newsroom jobs has also dropped off significantly. Today, nearly a third of news media jobs and positions have been cut from companies and publications across the United States compared to a decade ago.

And sadly, on top of these print media woes, there is also a growing cynicism and distrust of the media here in Colorado and across the US. We often complain about the media, either because it’s too depressing, too political, or too boring.

I want to encourage all of us here this evening to not to fall prey to these negative attitudes. Instead, let’s always place it into perspective of those who do not have the luxury to consume or voice news, opinion, and perspective openly and honestly.

From state run news in China, to complete fabrication in North Korea, to shutting down of dialogue and unapproved content in countries throughout the Middle East, there is much we have that much of the world does not. May our complaints never be about the availability and access to news and information that we literally have at our fingertips 24/7 here at home.

It was John F. Kennedy who did a wonderful job capturing the spirit of our approach to news and information here in the US: “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." 

Let that rest in your heart and mind. I just came recently from the Middle East, and I was in countries like Saudi Arabia and other places and you get to see this first hand – in terms of what content and what access you have to certain ideas. You may not always agree with those ideas; they may not be valid ideas, but be thankful that we at least live in a country where we can hear them.

To continue to help us build off these ideas of freedom of information and power of news media, I’d like to introduce our guest speaker, Jared Wright…