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40 fascinating facts about the news industry

  • 40 fascinating facts about the news industry

    The nation’s news industry manages to stir up passionate opinions. Americans feel strongly about their hometown newspapers, the look of a news anchor, and their need for accurate weather reports.

    Stacker compiled a list of 40 fascinating facts about the news industry, consulting circulation figures, public opinion surveys, historical accounts, and, of course, media reports. In particular, it looked at how the industry has evolved, how its role is perceived, and the impact it has on everyday lives.

    News has been shaped by several colossal developments: the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, new mediums of dissemination like radio and TV, and—of course—the invention of the internet, which upended the ways of television, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Traditional methods of spreading and delivering news was jolted as more people read their news online and watched it in videos, and the consequences are still unfolding. Social media like Facebook and YouTube challenge factual reporting.

    Nearly 500 U.S. newspapers shut down between 1970 and 2018. More significantly, paid newspaper circulation peaked in 1987 at more than 62 million, then plunged by more than half to less than 28 million in 2018.

    The availability of free content has discouraged Americans from paying for news, even if its quality and standards are inferior to those of more established media that cost money. A study in 2018 found most Americans had not paid for news in the prior year.

    Throughout the decade ending in 2019, the number of newsroom jobs fell by 23%. Where there were some 114,000 reporters, editors, photographers, and camera crews working in newspapers, radio, cable, broadcast television, and digital outlets in 2008, the number dropped by some 27,000 jobs to 88,000 in those 10 years.

    But as the industry lurches and stumbles, along the way, men and women have made some remarkable contributions, putting their lives on the line for news stories that mattered. Here are some fascinating facts to ponder.

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  • Americans get most news from television and online

    Research shows 41% of Americans like getting their local news on television, and 37% prefer getting it online—a roughly even split. Only 13% say they prefer a printed newspaper, and a mere 8% choose radio.

  • Republicans take a dim view of the media

    Republicans hold a much more negative view of the news media than do Democrats. More than half say news organizations do not care about the people they cover, are unprofessional, are overly critical of America, and hurt democracy. More than half of Democrats in the same 2020 survey, on the other hand, said they thought news organizations care about the job they do, and about half said they considered news organizations to be highly professional.

  • Newspaper readers go online

    Newspapers have moved from paper and ink. Some 43% of daily newspaper readers say they get their news digitally, as do 49% of readers of community newsletters.


  • Yahoo News attracts the most visitors

    The nation’s most popular news website is Yahoo News, which boasted of 175 million unique monthly visitors as of August 2020. Google placed second, with 150 million monthly visitors, followed by Huffington Post with 110 million, and CNN with 95 million unique monthly visitors.

  • Local news takes a hit

    Local isn’t quite so local anymore, as news coverage is pinched by industry cutbacks and consolidation. In the United States, about half of adults say the local news they get covers an area that is not their own, such as a nearby city, while half say their local news covers the area where they live.


  • New York tabloid is oldest daily

    The oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the United States is the New York Post, which was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton. Connecticut’s Hartford Courant is the oldest continuously published newspaper, starting as a semi-weekly in 1764 and going daily in 1836.

  • Weather reports rank as most important news

    In terms of “news you can use,” weather is the topic cited as most important for everyday life by 70% of Americans surveyed. Another 44% listed crime, and 41% listed traffic.

  • Fox News wins most primetime, daytime viewers

    As of mid-2020, Fox News had the biggest audience in primetime—8-11 p.m.—with almost 4 million viewers in June. In October 2020, Fox News averaged 428,000 daytime viewers aged 25-54, compared with CNN, which had 361,000, and MSNBC, with an average of 243,000.

  • Mexico most dangerous for journalists

    In 2019, 49 journalists were killed worldwide; the year before, the death toll was 80. The most dangerous countries in 2019 were Syria and Mexico, where 10 journalists were killed in each. In Mexico in particular, journalists are often put under surveillance or threatened for exposing public corruption.

  • Most Americans have faith in the media

    A 71% majority of Americans say their local media reports the news accurately, and 65% say the news media is thorough. A majority also thinks the media keeps an eye on local political leaders and deals fairly with all sides.