The sixth annual State of the Media report was released late Sunday and its online chapter suggests great promise and equally great challenges in online journalism. This is my third take on the report and other posts will come in the time ahead.
The report authors suggest 2008 may be looked upon historically as a milestone in the history of the Web as a news destination. Traffic is growing and the Web now surpasses all but television in the U.S. as a news source. Established media gain the lion's share of audience, but there are many new players breaking into large markets for their original work.
But the Project for Excellence in Journalism also concludes that the model that built legacy media --- advertising-based support --- will not work in the new. The stall, then decline of online advertising makes clear that a new revenue model for news is necessary, yet little or no progress was made in the year in finding one.
Time is short, the report suggests, and it is no better for the upstarts than the challenged legacy players: " Among new alternative outlets, the economic model looks no more promising. For all the experiments with new ways of reporting, producing, disseminating and sharing news content, most of the money to support them has come from philanthropy or private individuals. There has been little honest assessment of economic sustainability."