The big three nightly news broadcasts, NBC Nightly, CBS Evening and ABC World, lost a combined one million viewers in the second quarter of 2010, according to TVNewser.
These numbers are comparable to the first quarter, which saw Evening News and World News get their lowest average viewers ever, while NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage helped it get their highest average viewers since 2005. In the second quarter, NBC lost 440,000 viewers, ABC 260,000 and CBS 340,000. It was about this time last year that ABC and CBS’ news programs had their lowest ratings ever.
These numbers are not at all surprising in light of the public’s continued distrust of the old media. As Newsbusters’ Rich Noyes wrote of a Rasmussen poll released earlier this month, “Perhaps as a result, the poll finds an astonishing two-thirds of the public (66 percent) say they are angry with the media, ‘including 33 percent who are very angry’ with the press.”
Polls going back to 1997 displayed a continued public distrust with the news media. In a Pew survey, 54 percent of Americans believed that the news media “gets in the way of society solving its problems.” In 2006 a CBS poll showed 36 percent of adults had very little confidence in the news media.
There is also an expanding array of media options, both on the air and online. Not only can many of the evening news programs be found online shortly after broadcast, but 24 hour news channels allow one to get the content of the nightly news well before the program is on, to say nothing of multimedia sites such as Huffington Post, Brietbart and others which allow consumers access to a lot of news and opinion.
TVNewser also reports that the 24 hour channels are also losing viewers, though not at the same rate as evening news programs. (Here.)
—Matt Robare is Incoming Senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a thorough New Englander. Has written for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian since 2007 and will take over as Editorial and Opinion editor in the Autumn of this year.