Axios – Engagement with news content has plunged during the first half of this year (2022) compared to the first half of 2021 and, in some cases, has fallen below pre-pandemic levels.
The war in Ukraine, a series of deadly mass shootings, the Jan. 6 hearings, and the Supreme Court’s revocation of abortion rights haven’t been able to capture the same level of attention spurred by the onset of the pandemic and the 2020 election. See this in the chart below.
News Consumption 2021 to 2022
This is on top of the massive drop in news consumption the year before. The level of news consumption in 2021 took a nosedive following historic highs in 2020.
News Consumption 2020 to 2021
Axios continues and gives more detail about engagement with news content across all platforms, which have declined significantly in the first half of 2022.
- Cable viewership across the three major cable news networks — CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC — is, on average, down 19% in prime time for the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2021. Those losses skew heavily toward CNN and MSNBC, which are down 47% and 33%, respectively. Fox’s ratings are up 12% in that six-month span.
- News app sessions for the top 12 mainstream most-trafficked publishers dropped 16% in the first half of 2022, according to data from Apptopia.
- Website visits for the top 5 news websites in the U.S. by unique visits tracked by Similarweb dropped 18% in the first half of 2022.
- Engagement on social media with news articles cratered over the past six months, dropping 50% since the first half of last year, despite more articles published, according to data from Newswhip. Engagement is measured by interactions with articles posted, which include likes, comments, and shares.
Reuters Institute’s annual Digital News Report has solid data spanning ten years that enable us to see consistent and relentless falls of traditional news channels such as print, radio, and television news. The report finds that online reach is flat or, at best, increasing slightly – but certainly not making up the gap.
Digital and social media offer a much wider range of stories, but this environment can often be overwhelming and confusing. While many people remain extremely active and engaged with online news, the abundance of choice in an online context may be leading others to engage far less regularly than they did in the past. See this in the chart below.
From this data, what can we postulate about American consumption of news? Consider the following.
- Americans are tuning out of what is happening to the country. Given the momentous events of the past few years, Americans have become more apathetic to what is happening. This becomes fertile ground for elites to propagandize the public toward their narratives.
- Since Americans consume less and less news, they will tend to merely read the headlines to form their opinions. For example, “Trump tells Americans to inject bleach for Covid remedies” or “Republicans are white supremacist extremists.”
- Though a small group, alternative media is thriving. This small group tends to be very informed and becomes the target of mainstream media as the “conspirators” against their propagandizing narratives.
Unfortunately, Americans are “news” ill-informed, and many will vote accordingly. What will it take to wake America up?
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