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Dinosaur Media Is In Trouble, Fox, CNN, & MSNBC Down 11%

Cable news is in trouble. The Pew Research Center reports that the median daily audience for Fox, CNN, and MSNBC is down about 11 percent since 2008.

The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi sees a grim future for the industry. He argues that cable news outlets are pretty much where newspapers were a decade ago: their audience is aging, their medium is being disrupted by new technologies, and the next generation of viewers is developing habits and preferences that they’re poorly placed to serve. (This is probably a good moment to note that I’m a contributor to MSNBC.)

The networks may still be making money — in 2014, Fox News managed $1.2 billion in profits, while CNN cleared $300 million and MSNBC made a bit more than $200 million — but Farhi suggests “the cable news networks will face bankruptcy the same way Ernest Hemingway once described a character’s financial demise: ‘Gradually and then suddenly.’”

Perhaps that’s right. But while Farhi’s account of cable news outlets’ woes focuses mainly on the cable part of the equation, it’s also worth considering the problems all three networks are having with the news itself.

 

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