“Despite a steady erosion in their collective audience and an aging viewership that averages 60 years old, the big three nightly newscasts are hardly dead,” writes Forbes‘ Dirk Smillie. “Actually, they draw an average 21 million viewers every night.”
Smillie interviews media analyst Andrew Tyndall, who says the newscasts serve a different purpose than some of the cablers. “Fox and MSNBC now have a reputation as being political. They function as sources for commentary and opinion, not news,” Tyndall says. “The nightly newscasts, by comparison, are general newsgatherers. They deliver summaries of the day’s news.”
Smillie also asks Tyndall about whether the mainstream media has been “overly favorable” in covering the Obama White House. “There may be a personality bias, not a liberal bias,” says Tyndall.
“[Obama’s] a ratings getter. Compare that with George W. Bush’s early days in the White House. There was very little news until Sept. 11. It’s certainly true that there has been favoritism toward Obama, but only in the sense that the networks want to cover him. That’s not the same thing as reporting with a bias toward his policies.”