By: Alok Verma
In journalism, there is an old saying: You’re only as good as your last story. This axiom is much etched on my mind as this used to be quoted at the drop of a hat by one of the most hands on editor-owner of India’s one of the most respected media houses where I worked. Probably, its real connotation has become more pronounced when TV journalists have begun to face challenge directly for eyeballs from from websites and social-media juggernauts such as Facebook and Twitter.
Most news networks have been burning midnight oil to stumble upon a formula to retain dwindling universe of news viewers. Whether more mature journalists, attractive anchors, perky reporters, noted personalities or mesmerizing analysts or a combination of all would make people watch news on tube is anybody’s guess. Personality driven appointment news shows do still bring loyal audience to news shows but that is too minuscule if one were to compare the total viewership of the news universe.
Hence, one can see all news channels indulging in weekly fights of TRPs to somehow win a larger slice of an aging audience that is getting more fragmented as news channels and other media platforms proliferate.
In the US too broadcasters such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC News and PBC Network have been struggling to woo viewers. According to a Pew Research Center report on ‘The State of the News Media 2013, the evening newscasts of the three major news networks in the US have lost more than 27 million viewers since 1980, or 526.6 percent of their audience. The average age of network evening news viewers is 53, the Pew report points out, compared to a median age of 37 for the U.S. population.
It’s the ease at which information is disseminated through Internet, mobile devices, Google News and so much more that has turned news into a commodity and the information is now available at people’s fingertips. They don’t always need to tune into a “traditional” authority to get the news they need.