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Nightly News Programs Going Down, Down and Down

opinions of workers. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
opinion. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

With the advent of the internet, the propensity of TV networks to treat us like idiots and feed us garbage – including things like the MSNBC interruption of a political discussion so they could report Justin Bieber’s court case – has increased.

Congratulations, networks, you have been hammering nails in your own coffins.

The Pew Research Center monitors trends, and new research says that the percentage of Americans who say they actually watch network nightly news has fallen to just 27 percent, down from 60 percent in 1993, a drop of more than a half.

As a pointer to the future of nightly news, young people between 18 to 29 years are a dwindling viewership, 11 percent, compared to 46 percent in 1993. Almost half of this age group (49 percent) say they never watch network nightly news at all.

That is not good.

Older Americans, aged 65+ are more likely to watch nightly network news. Even so, regular viewership in this demographic has fallen to 40 percent, down from 75 percent in 1993.

The Pew research team says people still get their news from the TV.

“Television remains the public’s top daily news source, but the audience for network TV news has steadily declined over the years as people have migrated to other places for news, namely cable TV and digital sources.” – Pew Research Center

The percentages are bad enough, but even worse are the total numbers, because our population has risen greatly in the past 20 years, from around 250 million to 316 million.

Analyzing data from Nielsen Media Research, Pew says the actual number of Americans who watch a nightly newscast on ABC, CBS, or NBC each evening fell from 48 million in 1985 to 24.5 million in 2013.

It used to be that everyone knew the news anchors by sight, so this quiz may surprise – and upset you. When shown a photo of Brian Williams, the anchor of the top-rated “NBC Nightly News,” only 27% or respondents could identify him. Three percent said he was former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, and 2 percent said he was Vice President Joe Biden.

What is happening to our education?

In 1985, a Times Mirror/Gallup survey showed that 47 percent of respondents could correctly identify Dan Rather, who at that time was anchor of CBS’ top-rated evening news program.

Brian Williams will not be happy, because only 15 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 correctly identified him, compared to 41 percent who named Rather in 1985.

Network Television makes its money from advertising, but digital media chipping away at TV’s dominance. Researchers say TV’s share of global advertising likely going in one direction – down, down, deeper and down.

Walter Cronkite must be rolling in his grave.

Down, Down, Deeper and Down

Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. He has written more than 3500 national political and foreign affairs columns. His BS in journalism from the University of Oregon, with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing.


Dwight has 30-years in the publishing industry, including ABC/Cap Cities and International Thomson. His first book, “Redistribution of Common Sense – Selective Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014,” was published in July, 2014. “The Game Changer – America’s Most Stunning Presidential Election in History,” was published in April 2017.


Dwight is a native of Portland, Oregon, and now a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.


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