The US is experiencing an overall decline in demand for legacy news media

Research shows a steady decline, for the most part, in the consumption of news in the US.

Newspaper on laptop computer

Fewer adults in the US are consuming the news via traditional media like television stations, print newspapers, and public radios, according to the latest study conducted by the Pew Research Centre in the industry. Using data from the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), the study shows a year-over-year decline, wherein of 136 newspapers studied, 120 declined in their weekday circulation, online and offline, with 2022 illustrating the steepest descent. 

More specifically, the average number of unique visitors to the websites of the country’s top outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, shows a decline of 20% in the same year. The average length of visit on these sites also registered a decline, averaging a minute and a half in the period.

Declines have been noted in all slots for local news on television and radio, with a few exceptions. Terrestrial radio has mostly been replaced by online radios and podcasts, where the news is merely discussed. 

However, amidst the decline, there are a few exceptions; for instance, the three largest newspapers referred to earlier have all experienced growth in online subscriptions. News aired on cable and network stations on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN have experienced some growth during 2020, a decline in 2021, and an uptick in 2022. 

Declining consumption also has had a mixed effect on revenue. While newspaper and network television revenues declined, for the most part, local television maintained similar trends associated with election years, and local radio revenue had a slight increase from roughly $1.1 billion in 2020 to $1.2 billion in 2021. Overall, advertising revenue decreased for the main television networks. 

Why does it matter?

The overall decline in news consumption in the US is telling, given that the US Media and Entertainment accounts for 6.9% of GDP and employs some 1.4 million people. It is also of concern given ongoing rows with social media giants who have threatened to discontinue the service on their platforms.