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Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

TV viewers begin to exhibit combat fatigue, study shows

March 30, 2003

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— Television viewers are showing their first signs of war fatigue, according to a poll released Friday.

The number of people who say it tires them out to watch war coverage was 42 percent from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Less than a third of poll respondents said that on Sunday and Monday, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Pew's surveys also found a steady increase in viewers who found the coverage "frightening to watch." Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with that statement in the most recent poll, versus 51 percent earlier in the week.

The conflict is unplowed ground for the media: the first war covered full time by three cable news networks in the United States.

"The issue is how will (viewers) cope?" said Pew's director, Andrew Kohut. "Will they stop watching? Will it lead to less support for the war?"

The war's television appeal has faded since the first bombs fell, but it's still a potent draw. Roughly 7 million people watched Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC on Wednesday, compared to the 2 million who watch on a typical day, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Broadcast networks aren't giving the war the same intense attention, but break in for special reports and often put on one-hour prime-time specials.

"CNN's mission is not going to change," spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. "We're obviously committed to covering this story completely."

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