All the news that’s fit to post

How are you reading this? On your smartphone? Your tablet? If so, you are part of the exploding audience that gets its news from traditional sources but through changing delivery platforms – and furthering the demise of print as a medium.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism this week released its 2012 annual report on the State of the News Media and found that online news consumption continues to be the biggest growth market in the industry regardless of the device, with the audience increasing more than 17 percent in 2011. The next closest medium was network television, with an increase of just 4.5 percent. Print continues its march to extinction, with newspapers losing 4 percent of their audience and magazines dropping a half-percent.

More than three-quarters of American adults own a laptop or computer but the biggest driver in online viewing is the spike in smartphone and tablet ownerships, with 44 percent of Americans owning an iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Windows device, while 18 percent of Americans now own a tablet, led, of course, by the revolution sparked by the iPad.

The numbers hold good and bad news for those who deliver the content. The audience for news is still strong. The Pew study finds that more than half of those who own the mobile devices get their news on the small screen and the vast majority go to the so-called “legacy” brands, such as the New York Times and Washington Post.

Online advertising increased by 23 percent in 2011 but five technology companies, including giants such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, accounted for 68 percent of that total revenue. And that doesn’t include Apple or Amazon, which make their money from downloads, apps and subscriptions. By 2015, the report states, Facebook is expected to account for one of every five digital display ads sold.

The report shows that newspaper ad revenue continues its death spiral, with print losses outstripping online ad gains by a 10 to 1 ratio, a higher ratio than 2010. Since 2000, the newspaper industry has shrunk by 43 percent.

Led by the New York Times introduction of a paywall, about 150 newspapers around the country began charging readers to get their news online but, again, the need for high-priced apps and downloads puts much of the money into the pockets of technology giants rather than the newspapers. Some, such as the Boston Globe and Financial Times, developed their own content provider using the new HTML 5 design but the returns are not promising.

The report brings up some interesting scenarios where those who control the devices could soon control the sources, with technology giants purchasing the legacy brands. Facebook already partners with a number of traditional media such as the Post, Wall Street Journal and The Guardian, and Yahoo has entered into an agreement with Reuters to develop original online video content.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes bought the nearly 100-year-old New Republic magazine. His rationale is based on the increase in tablets, which allow readers to “pause, linger, read and process very important ideas.”

One stark sign of the future: The study finds 54 percent of Americans use Facebook and they spend an average of seven hours a month on the site – 14 times what they spend on news sites.

                                                                                                                    –JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

Jon Keller tells state Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty big boys don’t cry.

About 200 people gathered at the State House to protest the Patrick administration’s plan to close Taunton State Hospital. The Fall River Herald News calls on officials to “stop and study,” the phrase that has become a rallying cry for hospital supporters.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced reforms for housing authority directors, which will include bringing them all under one standard contract.

The Boston Herald rounds up the current crop of rumored 2014 Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, a group the paper says includes US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, Treasurer Steve Grossman, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and US Rep. Michael Capuano.

Cambridge city councilor Marjorie Decker will run for the seat Rep. Alice Wolf is vacating.

The Plainridge Racecourse begins negotiations on a host community agreement with Plainville.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

OneUnited Bank fires back at the Charles Street AME Church. Meanwhile, Globe columnist Steve Syre has some questions for Bay State Banner publisher Mel Miller, who has been defending the bank and blistering the church in editorials without disclosing that he sits OneUnited’s board. There is also a bit of a “glass houses” thing here, with Miller’s paper having received a loan from a city agency that had to be restructured because the Banner wasn’t making its payments — sort of like the church. Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca offers to raise funds to buy out OneUnited.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

US Reps. Jim McGovern, Richard  Neal, and Niki Tsongas were cited for hiring relatives to help with their campaigns in a report by a DC-based watchdog group, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports.

Sen. Scott Brown pens an op-ed in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in support of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.

Slate interviews the embattled president of the Cato Institute.

ELECTION 2012

Keller@Large goes toy shopping for every politician.  Meanwhile, the man who has put children’s toys suddenly in the center of the GOP presidential race, Eric Ferhnstrom, has everyone asking, “Just who are you anyway?” The Globe’s Frank Phillips fills in some details. The Wall Street Journal editorial page wants Romney to shake an Etch-a-Sketch at his 2006 health care law.

New polls show President Obama making strong gains in Virginia which has the GOP very, very worried. The Atlantic compares Obama’s and Romney’s tax plans in chart form, with predictable results for the 1 percent.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Stop & Shop has become the latest supermarket to drop “pink slime” from its meat cases, that filler to ground beef that is treated with ammonia.

Connecticut regulators will consider the NStar-Northeast Utilities merger, the AP reports. Via WBUR.

Bank of America pilots a foreclosure program that leaves families in their homes as renters.

Amazon.com enters the taxable marketplace.

EDUCATION

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell continued his battle with the city’s school system, using his first State of the City address to question the leadership of the schools.

Postdoctoral researchers at UMass Amherst get a new contract.

So Paul Levy wonders what’s up with so many educated people using the word “so” so much.

HEALTH CARE

The National Review’s conservative symposium gathers to ponder if the Affordable Care Act can be undone and the majority thinks the political avenue is the better bet than the Supreme Court.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Plymouth officials are putting up gates on some of the access roads to Morton Park, the first public park in America’s Hometown, in an effort to reduce pollution and erosion.

One of the benefits to the warm winter has been the ability of construction projects to continue through the season without interruption and stay on or ahead of schedule.
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Holliston rejects a solar farm

Paul Krugman takes on gas prices. An Atlantic infographic charts rising global energy demand.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

An acquittal for one defendant and a mistrial for the other in the Mattapan quadruple homicide case that has riveted Boston. Greater Boston examines the stunning verdict and the courtroom chaos that ensued. WBUR collects Boston’s reaction on Twitter. Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis says the prosecution will face the same hurdles in a retrial that it did this time — an unreliable star witness and a seemingly incomplete investigation by Boston detectives.

Springfield plans a 1,000 Hoodies march to protest the death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was killed in Florida. Pittsfield also has a protest planned. A similar march was held in New York. The Republican argues that the young man’s family deserves some answers. With many people comparing the case to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, which helped galvanize the civil rights movement, USA Today says that Martin’s case has distinct racial echoes.  Black conservatives are (mostly) on the same page.

Former Lawrence School Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy is convicted of fraud and embezzlement charges.

The US service member accused of shooting civilians in Afghanistan will be charged with 17 counts of murder. WBUR rounds up the media reports.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

An Eagle-Tribune editorial praises New Hampshire lawmakers for defeating the same-sex marriage repeal bill.