Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

The Briefing

☀️ Happy Thursday! The Briefing is your guide to the world of news and information. Sign up here!

In todays email:

  • Top story: The Baltimore Sun has returned to local ownership
  • New from Pew Research Center: Views from Americans on the edge of politics
  • In other news: News outlets cancel New Hampshire GOP primary debates
  • Looking ahead: CNN’s new CEO explores digital subscription model
  • Chart of the week: Americans are following the news less closely than they used to

🔥 Top story

The Baltimore Sun has been sold to David D. Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group. This will return The Sun to local ownership for the first time in decades. Within the newsroom, some are concerned about the sale due to Smith’s conservative politics and previous criticism of print media.

Smith is seeking to make The Sun more profitable at a time when both circulation and revenue have been trending downward for local newspapers nationwide for years. The total combined print and digital circulation for locally focused U.S. daily newspapers in 2020 was 8.3 million for weekday (Monday-Friday) and 15.4 million for Sunday, representing declines of 40% and 45%, respectively, since 2015. And revenue from advertising has declined even more steeply than circulation revenue over that span.

🚨 New from Pew Research Center

A new essay from Pew Research Center based on a series of focus groups conducted last year explores the views and experiences of Americans who do not feel strongly connected to any one political party and who don’t closely follow the news about politics and government. One participant offered the following take: “You don’t know what to believe; it’s so much information to soak in that you sometimes don’t know if it’s true or not.” 

📌 In other news

📅 Looking ahead

New CNN CEO Mark Thompson told The Wall Street Journal that he is considering trying to monetize CNN’s content through a digital subscription model that would enhance the mobile video news experience. Thompson also said he plans to combine newsgathering into a single TV-and-digital unit. 

The average number of TVs tuned in to CNN for the prime news time slot declined 25% in 2022, from an average audience of about 1.1 million in 2021 to 828,000 in 2022, according to our recent analysis of Comscore data. This contrasts with a rise in viewership for Fox News and a more modest decline for MSNBC. CNN’s total revenue also decreased by 5%, from $1.9 billion in 2021 to $1.8 billion in 2022.

📊 Chart of the week

This week’s chart comes from a recent blog post exploring the decline in Americans’ attention to news.

In 2016, 51% of U.S. adults said they follow the news all or most of the time. In 2022, the most recent time this question was asked, 38% of U.S. adults said the same.

A line chart showing that 51% of U.S. adults said they follow the news all or most of the time in 2016, a percentage that decreases to 38% the most recent time this question was asked in 2022.

👋 That’s all for this week. 

The Briefing is compiled by Pew Research Center staff, including Naomi Forman-Katz, Jacob Liedke, Sarah Naseer, Christopher St. Aubin, Luxuan Wang and Emily Tomasik. It is edited by Katerina Eva Matsa, Michael Lipka and Mark Jurkowitz, and copy edited by Rebecca Leppert.

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