Tom Long goes into an exhaustive whine about the decline of our interest in the news in an article in the Detroit News today. (link)
He uses the chart shown above to back up his pronouncement when, in fact, it shows something completely different.
... a vast number of news providers -- broadcast, cable, Internet, print -- [are] battling for the attention of a dwindling audience, with the nightly network broadcasts perhaps fighting the hardest battle.
In 1993, 60 percent of Americans said they watched a nightly network news show, according to a January report by the Pew Research Center in Washington. By 2004, only 34 percent of Americans were watching one of the Big Three broadcasts nightly.
A cursory look at the chart would lead one to believe that viewer interest in the news is, indeed, in decline. But look closely and you'll see a general uptick beginning in 2000. It is possible, if the survey is only updated every two years, as it appears, that 9/11 and the war on terror may have contributed to the turnaround.
But if it truly began in 2000 - before 9/11 - then there can be only one explanation.
I and many other conservative Americans quit watching the liberal evening news long ago. In my case, I voided my subscription several years ago to the local newspaper out of frustration over the offensive bias that I found myself paying to read. It was only when I stumbled upon Fox News (and talk radio) that I came back.
So, make of the statistics what you will. I tend to believe that as more cable networks choose to carry Fox News, the charts will continue to reflect a growing interest in the news.
Chart courtesy of Detroit News.
Click on image to enlarge.