MSNBC reported a 20 percent increase in overall viewership for 2012 in a press release last week. Its Black viewership has increased by 60.5 percent.
This is in comparison to CNN’s Black viewership increasing by 23.7 percent and Fox News’ decreasing by 23.7 percent (leaving the station with a Black audience of 1.38 percent) in 2012. CNN’s Black viewership was 131,000 in 2011 compared to 162,000 last year, according to Mediaite. Fox’s Black viewership went from 38,000 in 2011 to 29,000 last year.
MSNBC has employed a diverse group of people within the past year. The new talent includes Michael Eric Dyson, Tamron Hall and Michael Steele. As the AmNews reported, last February Melissa Harris-Perry, a Black columnist and professor of political science, began anchoring a weekend show on the station. Rev. Al Sharpton also began hosting “PoliticsNation” on MSNBC in August 2011.
In response to the station’s new numbers, Phil Griffith, president of MSNBC told Mediaite, “I think we made a commitment, we decided, that in order for this channel to succeed, that we had to reflect the country. This meant that we had to be part of the country in ways that the other channels weren’t.”
Griffith continued, “We have a diverse on-air group of people, because that matters, and people want to know that we reflect their world. And it’s not just a single show – it’s across the board. You look at the guests every hour and we make sure that we have women, African Americans, everything, and I think to spend a day watching MSNBC is to see America as we have seen it.”
He finally said, “It wasn’t like we said ‘Oh, we have to have a diverse person on here and there.’ We made a decision. We made a commitment in ideas, issues and everything – the audience followed, and that goes back to four or five years ago. As we grew, we recognized that it was the right thing to do. It’s giving a voice to people in these kinds of programs who don’t always get a voice. Our look is as diverse as any on mainstream TV. I’m incredibly proud of it. It’s not like we decided ‘We’re going to increase our African American viewership by 60%,’ but I’m thrilled that it happened, and it says a lot about what we’ve been doing over the last few years.”
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