Thursday, March 26, 2009

One News Source Bucking The Trend

More than 26 million listeners tune into NPR news each day, double the number in 1998, opposite the trend of most other news media according to a report by Anya Kamenetz this month in Fast Company magazine.

It is carried primarily on 860 member public radio stations like WUNC, broadcasting as North Carolina Public Radio and headquartered in nearby Chapel Hill, and also with a studio in Downtown Durham in the American Tobacco Campus.

NPR listenership is now greater than network TV news, which has dropped 28% to 23 million, but still half the combined 49.8 million circulation of all newspapers - which has also dropped by more than 11%.

To put it in perspective, 10 times more people tune into NPR radio news each morning and afternoon than read USA Today newspaper or watch Fox News according to the report. NPR now has more bureaus around the world than CNN.

When I first started to listen to NPR news in the early 1980’s, it was in its first decade and had around 5 to 7 million listeners. It was a great alternative because the coverage seemed deeper, less sensational and slick, and you could count on accuracy and alternative viewpoints. That’s still true today, but the larger it becomes the more it is pressured to mimic mainstream news.

I guess it has become mainstream now, but I hope it doesn’t lose its soul.

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