The almost frenzied news coverage of the 2016 election and emotional response by many Americans has led to speculation about the rise of news fatigue among the public media audience and its effect on time spent listening and overall revenue.
Several studies show that news fatigue is occurring. But this fatigue isn’t guaranteed to impact stations negatively. Many of our audience members see conventional media as the source of their news fatigue, and can still be reminded of the singular, trusted role public media plays for them.
First, the data. A 2018 Pew Research study reported that nearly seven in ten Americans were exhausted by the news, Republicans even more so that Democrats. Another study conducted by NPR found that 50% of Morning Edition and All Things Considered listeners said they sometimes needed a break from the news, and 38% said they felt overloaded with news and information these days1.
However, there’s no indication that station listenership is down overall. RRC (Radio Research Consortium) finds that while some stations are experiencing decreased listenership, other markets are experiencing gains. (Of course, examining only listenership can be misleading, since people are consuming media across increasingly diverse platforms. Inside Radio estimates that Americans will spend over 11 hours each day interacting with content across various streams.)
So where does this leave a fundraiser with a goal to meet and a on-air campaign looming? During this moment of news fatigue, it’s more important than ever to embrace on-air messaging that is positive and engaging.
At PMDMC 2019 we joined two experienced allies from the programming world to discuss on-air messaging that can combat the effects of news fatigue and positively engage donors right where they are during the drive and beyond.