This column gives us an early look at a new report that'll emerge next week about how the news media is doing -- audience wise.
The lede? Fox News is hurting the worse, at least in terms of percent drop in audience, over the past year. The international nature of some of the biggest news stories has hurt Fox. The network is more into talking about the news than covering it, so it stands to reason that the upheavals in the Middle East do not play to their strong suit. A number of the network's popular talking heads (Beck the most, but also Hannity and O'Reilly) are seeing drops in prime audience.
CNN? Up, but only a smidge. MSNBC? Up, more than a smidge. But this is at a time when more people are turning to the Net for news, so any smidge up is better than a drop down.
What's unknown are the reasons why people are easing away from cable news, especially Fox. Partisan? I doubt it. Ideological? Not sure. Tired of the same old crud? Very possibly. Beck has worn thin even among Fox execs, or so the stories go. Fox, in gaining a huge audience, has painted itself into an ideological corner and now has no easy way to extricate itself without pissing off its pure blood conservatives. I'm not sure how many more GOP presidential candidates the network can afford to keep -- or kick off -- its payroll and see be seen by average folks as a reasonable source of news.