The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) scored a goodly number of headlines today with a key finding from its killer new study “The State of the News Media 2013.”. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 adults in early 2013, 31 percent report having bailed on a news outlet because “it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.”

Pew frames the findings as “one more piece of bad news for organizations already laboring to secure their place in the 21st century.”

Correct: When nearly a third of respondents speak of news-outlet abandonment because of lame coverage, that cannot be good news. But how bad is bad here?

Answer: We don’t know. As PEJ Acting Director Amy Mitchell says, this study on news-org desertion is a new thing. “This is the first time we’ve asked that question,” says Mitchell, who says she’s unaware of any other organization having monitored this matter over time. “This is one of the things we wanted to get at.”

They got at a lot of things, including, for example, awareness among Americans of the news industry’s difficulties:

More fun facts from PEJ in this chart:

If only we journos had such data going back a couple of decades. Then we could measure precisely how poorly we are doing.