Pew Study: Readers Won’t Pay, Won’t Click Ads

The Pew Research Center has released its State of the News Media report, an industry-wide analysis addressing the big questions raised by economic recession and technological change. One finding: there is still no good way to get dollars for online news:

Survey data may suggest a further devaluing of most online ads. While 81% say they do not mind them if it means they can get the content free, much of that is because they find them easy to ignore. Fully 79% say they never or hardly ever click on advertisements….

Just 7% of Americans express any willingness to pay for news content. Instead, large majorities said they would look for content elsewhere if their favorite site put up a pay wall.

But Pew also finds time for more abstract inquiries. For instance: what defines a magazine if not shiny paper?

Salon, one of the original online publications, announced during the year that it was no longer a magazine because it posts content too often. The Daily Beast, launched in 2008 by celebrity magazine editor Tina Brown, has gained prominence, but Brown, in her inimitable way, promotes her site as something faster and bouncier, and has the word “daily” in its name. The Week is a magazine that summarizes the work of others, an aggregator as magazine.The Economist comes close to the original notion of a news magazine, byline-less and covering the world.

Beyond the news space, the term magazine encompasses everything from Bowhunt America, about hunting with a bow and arrow, to O, a magazine built around the tastes and personality of talk show host Oprah Winfrey, to AARP, now the country’s largest magazine and the only big one, according to the data, to increase its audience in 2009.

You know you are in bleak times when AARP is the only thing growing.