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The Future of 24-Hour News

New Directions, New Challenges

Edited By Stephen Cushion and Richard Sambrook

Over the last 30 years 24-hour television news channels have reshaped the practice and culture of journalism. But the arrival of new content and social media platforms over recent years has challenged their power and authority, with fast-changing technologies accelerating the speed of news delivery and reshaping audience behaviour. Following on from The Rise of 24-Hour News Television: Global Perspectives (Cushion and Lewis, 2010), this volume explores new challenges and pressures facing television news channels, and considers the future of 24-hour news. Featuring a wide range of industry and academic perspectives, including the heads of some of the major international news channels (BBC Global News, Al Jazeera and Sky News, among others) as well as leading academics from around the world, contributors reflect on how well rolling television news is reinventing itself for digital platforms and the rapidly changing expectations of audiences. Overall, the 24 chapters in this volume deliver fresh insights into how 24-hour news channels have redefined rolling news journalism – or potentially could do – in order to remain relevant and effective in supplying continuous news for 21st-century audiences.
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Chapter 20: Anti-Social Media: Watching, Hearing and Talking about Politics in US Cable News Channels


← 256 | 257 →CHAPTER TWENTY

Anti-Social Media: Watching, Hearing and Talking about Politics in US Cable News Channels


In 2011, the Pew Research Center asked the American public a question that revealed something interesting about the perception of the 24-hour news channels that had become a flash point in political discourse by that time. The survey asked, “what comes to mind when you think about news organizations?” Unprompted, 63% mentioned the name of a cable news outlet. More than any other news brand, respondents named CNN (43%) and Fox News Channel (39%). By way of contrast, little more than a third (36%) mentioned a broadcast outlet such as NBC. Just 5% named a major national newspaper. MSNBC, while mentioned by a modest 12%, still came up more than the New York Times (mentioned by 4%) (Pew Research Center, 2012).

Cable news at the time had an air of ubiquity. But in the years since that survey was fielded, social platforms and applications have gone from being supplemental sources of information to central ones. That, along with a host of other competitors for the attention of news audiences, raises questions about the role of cable news as a major broker in American political discourse. But was it ever thus?

Consider that in 2011 only a little over 3 million people in the US were watching one of the three main 24-hour news channels during the key prime-time hours...

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