Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fox News' Audience Is Literally Dying: Is Ailes' Grand Propaganda Experiment Doomed?


Will we finally be relieved from the propaganda menace at Fox News?

From 'Reed Richardson's article at The Nation, reprinted by Alternet.org:

"Fox News' Audience Is Literally Dying: Is Roger Ailes' Grand Experiment in Propaganda Doomed?

"There are certain demographic realities that can't be ignored.

"To keep relying on a shrinking number of elderly, white and male subsets of the public, whether to win elections or win ratings, has become a strategy of diminishing returns...;I think that you can't separate the problem at Fox [News] from the problem that the Republicans are going through (Reagan White House economic adviser Bruce),' Bartlett says. He can speak firsthand to this incestuous relationship, as his 2006 book, Impostor—which broke with party orthodoxy over the Bush administration's deficit spending—quickly made him persona non grata at Fox News, he says. (Fox News did not respond to questions about his comment.) 'The Republicans are trying to retool to win. That's all they care about, and they're trying to decide, "How can we be more pragmatic? How can we shave off the rough edges? How can we get rid of the whack jobs who are embarrassing us, costing us Senate seats? But at the same time, we can't do this in such a way that it alienates our base."' Fox News faces a similar dilemma, Bartlett contends: 'It's "How do we modernize? How do we attract new audiences without losing the old audience? How do we remain relevant without abandoning our traditions?"'



"These are fundamental questions, and lately Fox News's 
fundamentals—audience, ratings and public trust—have faltered. A 2010 study by Steve Sternberg found the network's viewership to be the oldest (with an average age of 65) among an already elderly cable news audience. (CNN's was 63 and MSNBC's was 59.) By comparison, lifestyle cable channels Oxygen, Bravo and TLC were among the youngest, with an average viewer age of 42. And with MSNBC's recent decision to plug 34-year-old rising star Chris Hayes into the coveted 
8 pm slot, the average age of that network's prime-time hosts will now be 45, while Fox News's rotation, anchored by 63-year-old Bill O'Reilly, has an average age of 57.

"Having cable news's oldest average age for both prime-time hosts and audiences represents something of a double-edged sword for Fox in the cutthroat world of cable TV. One advantage is that older audiences are traditionally more loyal, which is why several industry experts say that Fox News is unlikely to be dislodged from its perch atop overall cable TV news ratings anytime soon. This age-loyalty effect redounds to the benefit of Fox News's best-known prime-time hosts, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, as roughly two-thirds of their viewers are age 50 or older, according to a recent Pew State of the News Media survey.



"But at the same time, there is an undeniable actuarial reality at work—or as Bartlett bluntly puts it, 'Their viewership is quite literally dying.' The most lucrative advertising dollars flow to TV shows that attract viewers 'in the demo,' short for 'demographic'—industry parlance for people ages 25 to 54. By contrast, Fox News's prime-time commercial breaks are blanketed with pitches for cheap medical devices and insurance companies aimed at retirees and the elderly. Perhaps not surprisingly, the network's advertising rates have grown at a much more modest pace in recent years, according to the Pew survey. Similarly, the growth of its ad revenues has diminished every year since 2008.

"Because of the relatively older age and smaller size of the cable news audience, viewership tends to be relatively stable, says Columbia University Journalism School professor and former NBC News president Richard Wald. "Its [ratings] move in very small increments." To understand why viewers come and go, he compares a TV network's audience to a target with concentric rings. The core audience—those who are loyal to your channel and watch frequently (and, for partisan media outlets, those who are most ideologically compatible)—is the bull's-eye. Each concentric ring outward represents a segment of the audience that is less likely to watch because of diminished interest or less enthusiastic partisan sympathies. Dramatic ratings shifts can occur, but they tend to be driven by external events, like elections, rather than programming and thus affect all of the networks simultaneously. Most ratings fluctuations are statistical noise, Wald says, resulting from people in the outermost rings tuning in or out based on varying interest. "I would guess that [Fox News's] numbers could change by 5, 6, 7, 8 percent and not reflect a change in the loyalty of the audience."



But here, too, the news does not bode well. Though the network did retain its status as the top-rated cable news network in 2012—its eleventh consecutive year at number one—the steep drop in ratings that its shows have experienced since Election Day has raised eyebrows, precisely because corresponding shows on MSNBC and CNN have not experienced the same precipitous decline.

"Just how much of a drop are we talking about? According to Nielsen data, Fox News's prime-time monthly audience fell to its lowest level in twelve years in January among the 25-to-54 demographic. Daytime Fox News programming likewise saw its lowest monthly ratings in this age cohort since June 2008. Even the network's two biggest stars, O'Reilly and Hannity, have not been immune from viewer desertion: Hannity lost close to 50 percent of his pre-election audience in the final weeks of 2012, and O'Reilly more than a quarter. The slide hasn't stopped in 2013, either. Compared with a year ago, O'Reilly's February prime-time ratings dropped 
26 percent in the coveted 25-to-54 demographic, his worst performance since July 2008. Hannity's sank even further, to the lowest point in his show's history.

"As Wald points out, short-term ratings snapshots can be deceptive. But in the weeks following Obama's 2009 inauguration, Fox News's viewership actually surged, averaging 539,000 prime-time demo viewers versus 388,000 and 357,000 for CNN and MSNBC, respectively. This past January, however, Fox could only muster 267,000 average nightly viewers—a 50 percent drop from that 2009 level, and not much more than MSNBC's 235,000 or CNN's 200,000.



"So why are all these Fox News viewers tuning out? Some of the decline may be due to a broader cultural trend of people deciding to avoid cable TV news altogether. However, a recent Public Policy Polling survey of news media trustworthiness suggests there's more going on than public apathy. In February, PPP found a marked drop in Fox News's credibility. A record-high
46 percent of Americans say they put no trust in the network, a nine-point increase over 2010. What's more, 39 percent name Fox News as their least-trusted news source, dwarfing all other news channels. (MSNBC came in second, at 14 percent.)

"As might be expected, Fox News's credibility barely budged among liberals and moderates (roughly three-quarters of whom still distrust the network) and very conservative viewers (three-quarters of whom still trust it). However, among those who identified themselves as "somewhat conservative," the level of trust fell by an eye-opening 27 percentage points during the previous twelve months (from a net plus–47 percent "trust" rating in 2012 to plus–20 percent now). Only a bare majority of center-right conservatives surveyed by PPP say that Fox News is trustworthy.

"'The people who are among the moderate-rights are actually the ones tuning out most,' says Dan Cassino, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who specializes in studying partisan psychology. Last May, Cassino conducted a survey that found Fox News's viewers were less informed about current political issues than those who watched no news at all. In response, the network's public relations team mocked FDU's college ranking in Forbes and belittled its student body as 'ill-informed.' This kind of ad hominem attack symbolizes the over-the-top, pugilistic messaging style of Ailes, whose no-holds-barred political instincts have dictated the network's direction since day one."



It's hard to say which paragraph so far has warmed the cockles of our hearts more, THIS:

 "In February, PPP found a marked drop in Fox News's credibility. A record-high
46 percent of Americans say they put no trust in the network, a nine-point increase over 2010. What's more, 39 percent name Fox News as their least-trusted news source, dwarfing all other news channels. (MSNBC came in second, at 14 percent."

OR THIS:

"'The people who are among the moderate-rights are actually the ones tuning out most',"

OR THIS:

"As might be expected, Fox News's credibility barely budged among liberals and moderates (roughly three-quarters of whom still distrust the network) and very conservative viewers (three-quarters of whom still trust it). However, among those who identified themselves as "somewhat conservative," the level of trust fell by an eye-opening 27 percentage points during the previous twelve months (from a net plus–47 percent "trust" rating in 2012 to plus–20 percent now). Only a bare majority of center-right conservatives surveyed by PPP say that Fox News is trustworthy"




But for non-Conservatives, the piece is well worth continuing...here --> http://www.alternet.org/fox-news-audience-literally-dying-roger-ailes-grand-experiment-propaganda-doomed?paging=off.

And for those who are familiar with The Nation, but aren't regular readers,  sign up for their newsletter here.

We now know about the general loopiness of the average Conservative Sheeplet, and in the meantime, we'll wonder how much longer it will take for voters to recognize the sheer criminality of the Conservative leadership, the vast criminal conspiracy that has almost brought democracy to its knees, and demand that Conservatism be made illegal.


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"A reasonable probability is the only uncertainty."

Edgar Watson Howe,with a small addition, from Country Town Sayings.


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1 comment:

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