Oct 9, 2014 11:40 am

Cutbacks at CNN highlight the cable news paradox

CNN cable news TV audience falls, digital audience growsTo some, the news this week that CNN Worldwide is cutting 8.5% of its workforce at the same time that it is enjoying a healthy, double-digit profit margin might seem confusing. The original – and largest – 24-hour news channel is in many ways faring just fine financially.

But a closer look at CNN reveals a larger problem, with cable news business struggling to find its feet in a shifting media landscape where its audience is not matching up with revenue trends. In terms of TV viewership, cable news peaked as a medium around the 2008 presidential election and, while showing impressive potential in digital, the business model is uncertain. Read More

Topics: Digital Media, News Media Trends, Television

Oct 9, 2014 9:30 am

What the world thinks about economic opportunity and inequality

Economic inequality has become a major focus of debates about economic policy, both in the United States and around the world. And as a new Pew Research Center survey highlights, the gap between rich and poor is seen as a major problem among all the publics polled in 44 nations across the globe. However, we found that people in the emerging and developing world are optimistic about the financial future of their children. It’s a different story in richer nations, where most believe prospects for the next generation are grim.

Here are five key takeaways from a new Pew Research report on what the world thinks about opportunity and inequality.  Read More

Topics: World Economies

Oct 9, 2014 7:00 am

For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades

Wage_stagnationFollowing the better-than-expected September jobs report, several economic analyses have pointed out the continuing lack of meaningful wage growth, even as tens of thousands of people head back to work. Economic theory, after all, predicts that as labor markets tighten, employers will offer higher wages to entice workers their way.

But a look at five decades’ worth of government wage data suggests that the better question might be, why should now be any different? For most U.S. workers, real wages — that is, after inflation is taken into account — have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs. Read More

Topics: National Economy, Work and Employment

Oct 8, 2014 9:25 am

For many Americans, a ‘meh’ midterm

Midterm elections rarely excite the general public, but 2014 is shaping up to be an especially underwhelming cycle for many Americans. With about a month remaining in the congressional races, 15% are very closely following news about the midterms —  down from similar periods before the elections in 2010 (25%) and 2006 (21%).Americans not very interested in 2014 midterm elections

Our new survey, which was fielded Oct. 2-5, found that an additional 22% of the public said they are following the midterm election news fairly closely, 25% said not too closely, and 39% said not at all.

As Pew Research has tracked midterm news interest throughout the year, attention to the elections consistently has lagged behind what it was four years ago. In eight surveys this year, news interest in the midterms has never topped 16% in a given week. Read More

Topics: 2014 Election, Election News, News Interest

Oct 7, 2014 7:00 am

Blacks are lukewarm to gay marriage, but most say businesses must provide wedding services to gay couples

African Americans remain less likely than white Americans to support same-sex marriage, as has been the case for several years. But at the same time, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that a majority of blacks – a significantly bigger share than among whites – say that wedding-related businesses, such as caterers or florists, should be required to provide wedding services to gay and lesbian couples.

Race and Same-Sex MarriageOur aggregated 2014 polling has found that about four-in-ten black Americans (42 %) support same-sex marriage, 11 percentage points below the comparable figure among whites (53%). Meanwhile, seven-in-ten African Americans (70%) say that homosexual behavior is a sin, compared with 47% of whites who say this, according to our new survey. Read More

Topics: African Americans, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Oct 6, 2014 4:30 pm

What today’s Supreme Court decision means for gay marriage

Erika Turner and Jennifer Melsop become the first same-sex couple to marry in Arlington, Va. Credit: Getty Images
Erika Turner and Jennifer Melsop become the first same-sex couple to marry in Arlington, Va. Credit: Getty Images
Click to view an interactive map detailing how state policies on same-sex marriage have changed over time.

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected requests to review lower court decisions that overturned bans on same-sex marriage in five states: Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. By denying these requests, the court effectively legalized gay marriage in these states. The lower court rulings had been on hold until the Supreme Court weighed in, but soon after the high court’s decision was made known, a number of states, including Virginia and Wisconsin, announced that gay and lesbian couples would be able to marry almost immediately.

While today’s decision settles the issue in some states, it has not ended the battle over same-sex marriage. Here is an explainer of today’s news and its possible impact. Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Supreme Court

Oct 6, 2014 9:30 am

Supreme Court to decide whether inmates have religious right to grow beards

Gregory H. Holt argues that federal law protects his right to grow a beard for religious reasons.
Gregory H. Holt argues that federal law protects his right to grow a beard for religious reasons.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Holt v. Hobbs, a case that will test the limits of religious liberty for prison inmates. Specifically, the court will determine whether prison officials may prohibit or limit a Muslim inmate from growing a beard, which many Muslims believe is required by their faith.

Here’s an explainer about the case and why it matters: Read More

Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices, Supreme Court

Oct 6, 2014 7:00 am

Who’s in charge of the Fed? Don’t bank on public knowing the answer

Several questions in Pew Research’s latest News IQ survey stumped a majority of the public, including the identity of one very important person.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t taken the quiz yet, you might want to do so now before you keep reading.

Forbes named her the most powerful woman in the U.S., but Janet Yellen is far from a household name. Just 24% of Americans can correctly pick out Yellen — from a list of four — as the chair of the Federal Reserve Board.janet yellen federal reserve chair

Nearly one-in-five (17%) say the current head of the Fed is Alan Greenspan, who led the board from 1987 to 2006. About one-in-ten chose a Supreme Court justice, either Sonia Sotomayor (6%) or John Roberts (5%). And roughly half (48%) did not offer a guess.

Read More

Topics: Public Knowledge, U.S. Political Figures

Oct 3, 2014 11:14 am

How’s the job market? Ups, downs of public sentiment mirror official stats

unemployment3_Oct3Americans may not be raging optimists when it comes to finding work — perhaps “skeptical realists” is closer to the mark — but their self-assessment of the job market tracks pretty closely with official unemployment statistics.

The nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.9% in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures out today. That represents a drop of 4.1 percentage points from the high of 10% recorded in October 2009 — although, as we’ve discussed before, some of that decline comes not from more people finding work but from more people dropping out of the labor force. Read More

Topics: National Economy, Work and Employment

Oct 3, 2014 9:44 am

Vatican synod on family highlights discord between church teachings and U.S. Catholics’ views

This weekend in Rome, the Catholic Church is set to begin a wide-ranging synod (assembly) on family issues. The two-week meeting comes at a time when most American Catholics say they disagree with their church’s teachings on family-related issues such as birth control and divorce. It also takes place in the wake of recent actions by Pope Francis that hint at the possibility of changing attitudes within the Vatican on questions related to marriage and family.

Last month, Francis fueled speculation about potential changes to church policies toward marriage by performing 20 weddings, including for couples that had children out of wedlock, had lived together before marriage or had been previously married. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Religion and Society, Religious Leaders