Outside of all the findings in this book – all the data, all the suggestions – there is the question of the future of the medium itself. Where is local TV news heading?
The business, along with journalism itself, is already changing. With an explosion of new outlets presenting news, audiences are fragmenting across more places and technologies. Consumers no longer rely primarily on one medium, but increasingly they graze across a range of different media each day, getting their news in pieces.
The audience for most journalism also is aging. This includes local TV. Young people are not acquiring the habit of reading newspapers, watching network news, listening to news on radio, or, indeed, watching local TV news. But the young are not apathetic. They do, it turns out, consume news. They also read. But they are getting their news from Internet sources, podcasts, and even cable news/comedy shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. These trends have major implications for local TV journalism. There is no reason, based on what we know about the history of news consumption habits, to believe that with age they will migrate to the older media in significant numbers.
There is a major financial implication to the new technology and the explosion in outlets it has spawned. Generally it has meant that most local TV stations are losing audience, which in turn is putting pressure on revenues.