Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MSNBC Mourns Itself as Latest Victim of Colorado Shooting

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- As news of the Colorado theater shooting broke last Friday, viewers switched from MSNBC to its competitors Fox News and CNN for live coverage of the attacks carried out by 24-year-old James Holmes. According to Nielsen ratings reports for July 20 -- during the time of the rampage at an Aurora, Colo., Cinemark that left 12 dead and nearly 60 others injured -- MSNBC's primetime audience dipped far below the network's averages. Conversely, CNN's viewership rose by 125 percent while Fox News' audience increased by 11 percent. MSNBC has been struggling over the last year to prevent significant ratings declines in its news broadcasts. For viewers to be turning off the network during a major event is "disheartening," media analyst Brad Adgate told Reuters. Executives at NBC described the massive loss of audience life as a "one of the most terrible and inconceivable horrors of our time."

Typically, cable news networks draw a spike in ratings when big stories develop. Examples would include natural disasters, political turmoil, Mila Kunis' love life, and military uprisings. But during several of the last major world events, MSNBC has found itself unable to keep its audience from migrating to other networks for up-to-the-minute reporting. Following the U.S. Navy SEAL Team's 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, for instance, CNN attracted 600,000 more viewers than MSNBC.

Analysts say the data for Friday's shootout at the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" underscores growing troubles at MSNBC.

NBC spokesperson Raylene Brulle agreed the network faces ongoing and future challenges, but said the immediate focus must be on healing. She called the Aurora massacre a "tragedy of epic proportions."

"Everyone at MSNBC is deeply saddened by the events, which caused our normal viewers to seek their news elsewhere," Brulle added. "Like all the victims and families affected by the actions of this lone gunman, we're also trying to find healthy ways to deal with our losses."

Brulle closely followed every development in the story as it unfolded through the Nielsen statistics, and said that as she witnessed the "senseless devastation" of the plummeting viewership numbers, she felt as though James Holmes had "put a bullet in the head of MSNBC too. Every ratings drop -- even just a single digit -- represented another fallen member of our community."

Wiping away tears, Brulle expressed confidence in the network's ability to pick up the pieces, move on, and forge a new path forward toward acceptance and success.

"We can't stay behind with the dead. We will survive, and we will live for them."

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.