Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Unreported MSM decline

Everyone knows newspapers are in trouble: newspapers report it, online websites report it, even TV reports it.

However, the NY Times (a newspaper) reported Monday that the newscasts of the major TV networks are also losing viewers, but TV is not reporting that:

“The television networks have basically not been very interested in talking about television’s problems,” said Michael X. Delli Carpini, dean of the university’s Annenberg School of Communication and one of the study’s authors. The authors combed through reports from 2000 through early 2009 from 26 major newspapers, the evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, and the prime-time lineups of CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

In the newspapers, they found 900 articles about the drop in newspaper circulation and 95 about the shrinking audience for the broadcast networks’ newscasts. The TV news shows had 38 reports on falling newspaper readership and only 6 about the falling audience for national news broadcasts.
The Times reports that the newspapers (big and small) have lost 16% of their readers since 2000, but the major broadcast networks had lost 28% of their viewers in the same time.

Of course, this is not exactly an apples and apples comparison: because about 2.5 million TV viewers shifted from broadcast news to cable, total primetime TV news viewership is only down 19%.

There is no solution yet to the business model problems of what critics (right and left) call the “mainstream media.” As NYT reporter Richard Pérez-Peña drily observed, “all media have new — but not very lucrative — audiences online.”

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