In a story about a drop in sales at local TV stations, the Merc’s Pete Carey points out that cut backs at newspapers get more attention from the media than budget cuts in television. Carey writes:
- Television stations and the major networks face some of the same problems that newspapers face, but they don’t say much about it, compared with the coverage by the print media about its problems.
A recent preliminary study by researchers at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania found that major newspapers reported far more often on the declining audiences for news, both for print and television, than the major networks.
Looking at a nine-year period, the researchers studied 26 major newspapers and compared their reporting to that of the news programs of seven major broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC, the Fox News Network, CNN and PBS. The papers ran 900 stories on the decline of print and TV audiences, while the major networks reported on the issue of declining TV news viewership in 22 reports, and an additional 38 reports focused on the decline in newspaper readership.
“It is not too great a leap to say that for all intents and purposes national television news has ignored its drop in viewership,” the researchers said.
Dean Singleton, chairman of MediaNews Group which owns the Merc, has been complaining about how the problems facing newspapers are covered. He told the Denver alt-weekly Westword:
- The problems of newspapers, in my view, are very mis-covered by media analysts today. They don’t understand the difference between a severe economic downturn, the most severe we’ve seen in my lifetime, and structural change. There are both going on. There’s structural change going on, and it has been for several years, and that will change our business model. But the majority of the revenue declines we’re seeing in 2009 are plain, old economic downturn.
… If you look at radio or television ad revenue for the March quarter, for the most part, they were down substantially more than print advertising. And they didn’t lose any business to the Web. So I think it’s unfortunate that the media wants to cover itself as if the sky is falling. The sky is not falling. It’s cloudy and we’re having severe thunderstorms, but the sky isn’t falling.