Breadth of coverage

The notion of "differentiation" leads to the question of whether corporate ownership and media proliferation can lead to greater breadth of information available to the typical user. Again, the Internet and cable news proliferation should, in theory, enable users to find more information. However, two of the Web journalists interviewed for this paper described a more limited reality. Said one, "I, personally, don't think there is much difference in the breadth and depth of news today than five years ago. I think the real difference between then and now is that we are saturated with a story more quickly." 1

In fact, the amount of news being covered may be dropping in some media, as shown in a Project for Excellence in Journalism study. The PEJ researchers studied local television news and gave more than 80 percent of the stations surveyed a "D" or "F" for enterprise work, defined as the number of investigative stories, special series or tough interviews. 2

The second Web journalist described a greater breadth of coverage in terms of what the reader can find but not in terms of how much information is disseminated:

"The breadth and depth of what news organizations publish probably hasn't changed much. The Internet hasn't created a new Reuters [wire service] or local newspapers. What has changed is the distribution of that news. Anyone, anywhere, can follow events in Tibet or in Paducah, Ky., as closely as if they lived there. Sites like Duke Basketball Report [a site run by Duke basketball fans not otherwise affiliated with the school] aggregate links about their niche topics for your handy reference." 3

Readers indeed have easier access to more information than before, even if the amount of news being reported has remained constant. Newspapers from distant towns often post their content online, giving readers thousands of newspapers from which they may choose. 4 News providers that filled particular niches through costly magazine production and distribution are easier to find on the Internet. Another effect of this process will be explored in the next section.