News Media Aiming Low, Warns Report

"We sense the news business entering a new phase heading into 2007 -- a phase of more limited ambition," the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) writes in the overview to its "State of the News Media 2007" report. News organizations are "starting to redefine their appeal and their purpose based on diminished capacity. Increasingly outlets are looking for 'brand' or 'franchise' areas of coverage to build audiences around." These news "brands" include "hyper localism," citizen media, opinion, and personal involvement. PEJ warns that some of these "can be marketing speak for simply doing less," while "branding can also be a mask for bias." Among the report's conclusions: "The news industry must become more aggressive about developing a new economic model," and the "Argument Culture" is giving way to the "Answer Culture." By the "answer culture," PEJ means "news outlets, programs and journalists offering up solutions, crusades, certainty and the impression of putting all the blur of information in clear order for people."