The Media Mood In Maryland: How Journalism Is Faring In The State

Local journalism survives in the state of Maryland – but it has its issues, judging by a new study from the University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill College of Journalism titled “Maryland Local News Ecosystem Study.” 

There are 176 outlets providing news or information in the state, but 39% doubt they can survive in two years without revenue growth. Six out of 10 have five people or less.  

Yet, in one hopeful sign, 20% of outlets increased their staff in the last two years, while 29% cut them and 51% stayed the same. 

Moreover, 70% said their digital audiences had grown in the last 12 months. And 75% are financially solvent, with nearly 60% saying they had been so for more than five years.

In Baltimore, “despite the controversies over the changing ownership of the 187-year-old Baltimore Sun, there is a vibrant ecosystem of new and old outlets, including some feisty startups and strong, if challenged, outlets carrying on the tradition of the Black press."



It is not clear if these trends are mirrored in other states, but they probably are, and this is a useful snapshot. 

As for journalism, of 1,450 stories examined, 69% were breaking news – largely about crime, local groups of people or announcements about local government. Of crime stories, 90% were breaking news, mostly from official announcements. The study notes as “newsrooms cut back, press releases play a large role in what people in Maryland learn about their communities.” 

However, another 21% were enterprise stories, based on ideas that originated in the press room. These were largely on topics such as entertainment, food and the arts. 

What do publishers want? “Just under half said their first priority would be more reporters, but another half identified other needs – digital skills, more business people, and better tools and skills for understanding their audience," the study states.



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