Network news has shown remarkable consistency over the last few years. Pew’s State of the Media 2013 report highlights that stability in both content and audience, even as the long-term trend continues downward.
Pew looked back to the years 2007-2012, and noted what stayed the same and what changed. While cable news saw some dramatic changes, the network newscasts remain remarkable similar, with roughly the same number of packages, interviews and live segments in 2012 as they had in 2007.
That said, there are some subtle changes.
2012 saw more political coverage than 2007 (not surprising given the election), while ABC increased its coverage of crime and lifestyle stories, U.S. foreign affairs stories dropped precipitously. NBC also saw an increase in crime, and a similar drop in foreign affairs coverage, while CBS covered less crime, but slightly more international stories. Foreign affairs dropped slightly less. As it happens, foreign datelines were down across the board.
Pew also looked at the content of the morning versus evening newscasts, and found that some topics were favored on certain programs. U.S. election coverage was bigger during the morning newscasts, while the evening news programs favored coverage of the economy and the Middle East.
Pew notes that the future of broadcast news is dependent on monetizing their digital presence, and drawing in younger people who primarily get their news online.