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Archive for Monday, June 10, 2002

Poll: Network news audience stable; newspapers decline

June 10, 2002

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— The number of people who watch network evening news on the three major broadcast networks stabilized during the past two years, says a poll that suggests increased news interest after Sept. 11 is at least partially responsible.

Despite that higher interest, the number of people who said they had read a newspaper the previous day declined to 41 percent, down from 47 percent in 2000, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. That is down from six in 10 in 1994.

The growth of online news consumption grew only slightly during that period a sharp contrast from the rapid growth of the late 1990s. The number that said they go online at least three times a week for news was one in four. That was not significantly higher than two years ago and possibly reflects the slower growth of Internet access.

About a third of the public, or 32 percent, said they regularly watched the evening network news on ABC, CBS or NBC, according to the survey, roughly the same as the 30 percent who said they watched regularly in 2000. Twice that many said a decade ago that they regularly watched the evening network news.

The news audience that regularly gets its news from cable stations remained about the same as network news, or one in three, according to the poll.

"Increased interest in national news, and even some additional interest in international news, has helped stem the steady loss of network news viewers over the last decade," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.

Some have predicted the days are numbered for the network nightly newscasts as more people get news from cable, online and other sources.

Newspapers have been particularly hard-hit by changing news habits. Only a quarter of those under age 30 said they had read a paper the previous day. Younger Americans tend to focus more on radio, magazines and the Internet for their news, the survey suggested.

In the past decade, much of the decline in newspaper readership has come in the 35-49 age group. "These people are not growing up to be loyal newspaper readers or network news viewers," Kohut said.

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