From USA Today

What a difference a year makes.

Each year the Pew Research Center offers up its annual report on the state of the news media.

It’s generally a grim document, packed with depressing statistics about plummeting ad revenue and shrinking rosters of reporters at legacy news outlets.

But the latest version released early Wednesday has a radically different tone. While hardly declaring the embattled field has turned the corner and found the elusive formula for surviving and thriving in the digital age, it sees lots of reasons for hope.

It’s not quite the irrational exuberance of Internet pioneer Marc Andreesen, who thinks we may be entering a golden age of journalism. But it’s not gloom and doom.

“In many ways, 2013 and early 2014 brought a level of energy to the news industry not seen for a long time,” the report states. “Even as challenges of the past several years continue and new ones emerge, the activities this year have created a new sense of optimism – or perhaps hope – for the future of American journalism.”

Why the happy face? For one thing, Pew is excited about the digital players who are plunging deeply into the serious side of the news business. BuzzFeed, identified with such fare as “Which Rock Star Should You Hook Up With?” has a news staff of 170 andhas plunged into investigative reporting, foreign news and longform journalism. Vice Media has 35 foreign bureaus. Vox Media is launching a website for explanatory journalism under the leadership of highly regarded policy wonk Ezra Klein, formerly ofThe Washington Post. Tech site Mashable has 70 news staffers in the lineup.

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