Pew State of the News Media 2012: Anchor and Executive Changes Shake Up Broadcast News

By Alex Weprin 

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It was a year of change for the broadcast news organizations, as noted by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism 2012 State of the News Media report. Focusing on the broadcast networks, Pew noted that ABC News had its first full year under president Ben Sherwood, CBS News saw new leadership in Jeff Fager and David Rhodes, and NBC News got new owners in Comcast.

In addition, essentially every network evening and morning newscast saw at least one major change, whether it was a new anchor, or a new EP running the show. The result: higher ratings for the evening and morning newscasts. It was a trend we first reported in September, when the annual ratings came in.

For the first time since 2001, all of the evening newscasts saw an improvement in ratings, albeit slight. Likewise, the morning shows also saw a slight increase in viewership compared to 2010. Newsmagazines–with the exception of NBC’s “Dateline” and ABC’s “Nightline”–were down compared to last year.

Long-term, broadcast news continues to see declines in viewership, as a proliferation of news alternatives on cable and online makes it easier for viewers to find programming that appeals directly to their interests:

Determining profits is tricky for the broadcast nets, as their revenue is tied into the larger network’s revenue. Nevertheless, Pew estimates that given the increase in ratings, and the healthier ad market, broadcast news likely outperformed many of their entertainment siblings, at least in in terms of growth.

In terms of stories, Pew highlighted the different stories that the networks presented, as well as the top five stories of the year, and how the evening and morning newscasts covered them:

You can read the entire Pew broadcast news report here.