New Directions, New Challenges
Edited By Stephen Cushion and Richard Sambrook
Chapter 20: Anti-Social Media: Watching, Hearing and Talking about Politics in US Cable News Channels
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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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