Public preference shifts towards digital news as cable news declines


A broadcast tower stands above American University’s campus in Washington D.C. Photo by Peter Billovits

People on American University’s campus gave their opinions in July regarding digital methods of accessing news in contrast to cable news services, an increasing concern about accessing information in a democracy.

The decline of broadcast and print news sources is no secret to the American public, as the Internet gains popularity as an alternative news source. The prominence of social media, current events websites, and other means of communication make the Internet an all too tempting alternative to replace the organizations displayed daily on linear broadcast television.

Emily Davis, 28, believes that an array of news sources is necessary in order to dodge political bias and get a balanced perspective.

Others, like international student Shuang Shan, 23, are distrustful of large sources of information.

“I think almost every news source has its own biases,” Shan said.

Shan’s home country of China is known for its censorship of news, a practice which she disagrees with. As such, she embraces the accessibility of sources like Vox, a popular news website. Shan predicts broadcast news will stick around.

“I think people will still watch broadcast news for some things like events happening in real time,” Shan said.

According to a Pew Research Center report about news services, cable news lost 140,000 daily viewers in 2014. It also released a report on the digital news media audience, showing the total amount of viewers on digital news sites has increased.

Among the top 10 digital news sources, the combined total of unique daily viewers is more than 1.8 million.

Satire shows also serve as a news source for many like American University student Audrey Schreiber, 21. Schreiber, a rising senior, enjoys watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central.

“He presents it in a way that you can swallow it, but presents it with a passion,” Schreiber said.

The question of whether traditional news is still relevant in an era of booming online sources and apps seems to be a subject of never-ending debate. Schreiber sees the decline of cable news as an opportunity.

“The more you try to save these dying newspapers, or whatever you want to call them, the less they get saved,” Schreiber said.

Lindsay Studer, 23, prefers to stay clear of major networks and instead resorts to theSkimm, an online service that emails select articles to a subscriber.

Even so, not everyone seems to want to abandon the tradition of watching their news and entertainment on television sets.

High school English teacher Maria Crudel, 47, think that it is essential for broadcast news to remain as a key source.

“I don’t care to sit in front of a computer and get my information because I already sit at a computer all day long,” Crudel said.

If there’s one thing that people seem to agree on, it’s the importance of keeping up on current events.

“That’s what a democratic process is all about,” Crudel said. “It’s about being informed and not having decisions made for you. And as an electorate, we have to know what’s going on.”