Over the years the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism has tracked declines in commercial media in its State of the News Media Report.
In the past 10 years, newspaper audiences have decreased on all fronts: Weekday Morning (-7%), Weekday Evening (-42%), Total Weekday (-13%), and Sunday (-18%).
Television is even struggling – who knew?! Evening network news audiences have decreased 30% in the last 10 years, 46% in the last 20 years and 57% in the last 30 years. Although total cable news has fared well, with large audience gains over time, when you separate the cable news channels CNN and MSNBC both show audience decreases (8% and 4% respectively since 2002).
Radio, however, has proven to hold strong throughout the years. In this case the number of news/talk radio stations has grown significantly in past 20 years; a gain of more than 550%. The public radio audience has grown 17% since 2002 and NPR’s station audience has shown consistent gains throughout the years as well. Listenership to NPR programming has increased a whopping 750% since 1980.
The decline in newspaper and TV news audiences demonstrates that public radio has become an increasingly vital source of news and information for Americans.
Meredith Heard is the Data Analyst for Corporate Sponsorship and Development in NPR's Audience Insight & Research group