New Target Audience for CBS News?

Over lunch Wednesday, I caught a few minutes of Tom Sullivan's syndicated radio program.  He mentioned that CBS's morning TV show recently featured at least two segments that were not just the usual DNC talking points.  Tuesday, CBS aired a sympathetic story about Mitt Romney's unpublicized generosity, and Wednesday, interviewer Charlie Rose let Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner make a convincing argument against the president without talking over his comments, as liberal media hosts typically do.

So what is going on?  Did the leftists at CBS News have an epiphany on the Road to Damascus and decide to try sincerity?  Probably not, so it might be better to examine the motivation behind such an ideological turnaround, assuming there even is one.

All organisms seek wealth and power -- and sex, of course, but sex often is just a perquisite of power.  Assuming wealth accumulation is the motivating factor behind this shift at CBS News, how would such a move make the organization more profitable?

It might be as simple as market segmentation.  Here's an illustration: Suppose you own a women's clothing store in a shopping mall.  Yes, there are similar stores nearby, but women buy more clothes than men, so all of you can make a small profit without bothering to offer men's clothing too.  Then, after years of selling only to females, the mall rents a tiny store to a smart entrepreneur that sells to both men and women.  Gradually, the store builds a loyal customer base and eventually becomes the largest and most profitable store in the mall.  Not only does it have the entire menswear market to itself; it also is garnering market share from the traditional women's stores.

Likewise, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC traditionally marketed primarily to Democrat audiences.  Studies show that Democrats watch more TV, so that seemed like the more lucrative target.  But then Fox entered the market and served both conservative and leftist audiences, professing to be "fair and balanced".  As a result, it became the market share leader.

In the clothing store analogy, some women probably vow never to shop in a store that also sells men's clothing.  But others found that the dual-gender store has women's clothes that are just as good or better than the single-gender stores.  Plus, the larger store provides one-stop shopping for them and their male friends.  Similarly, some closed-minded Democrats vow never to watch Fox News, but many find that Fox tells both sides of the story and has coverage that is as good or better than the Democrat-only networks.

Perhaps CBS News finally realized that it's foolish to leave the entire bipartisan market to Fox News, while mud wresting other news outlets for a share of the Democrat-only audience.  Thus, the two favorable CBS stories about Republican politicians.

And when people like Tom Sullivan start spreading the word, a few conservatives might venture over to CBS in hopes of seeing more bipartisan reporting.  Then audience numbers will rise, advertising revenue will rise, and CBS will become more profitable.  Mr. Sullivan lent credibility to this market-share hypothesis by pointing out that the relatively new President of CBS News is a 12-year Fox News veteran.

But what about the partisan CBS journalists?  Off camera, they must be throwing temper tantrums over the change.  And, as AT has pointed out before, Mr. Rose often resorts to "signal jamming" whenever a conservative begins to make a cogent argument, much as the Soviet Union jammed Radio Free Europe.  Could he permanently suppress the urge to continue jamming conservative guests?

Perhaps CBS News executives simply replied, "If you don't like our new policy of bipartisanship, I'm sure someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries."  (My fellow Ghostbusters fans will recognize that line)

Or... does CBS News still want power, even if it means foregoing wealth?

Over lunch Wednesday, I caught a few minutes of Tom Sullivan's syndicated radio program.  He mentioned that CBS's morning TV show recently featured at least two segments that were not just the usual DNC talking points.  Tuesday, CBS aired a sympathetic story about Mitt Romney's unpublicized generosity, and Wednesday, interviewer Charlie Rose let Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner make a convincing argument against the president without talking over his comments, as liberal media hosts typically do.

So what is going on?  Did the leftists at CBS News have an epiphany on the Road to Damascus and decide to try sincerity?  Probably not, so it might be better to examine the motivation behind such an ideological turnaround, assuming there even is one.

All organisms seek wealth and power -- and sex, of course, but sex often is just a perquisite of power.  Assuming wealth accumulation is the motivating factor behind this shift at CBS News, how would such a move make the organization more profitable?

It might be as simple as market segmentation.  Here's an illustration: Suppose you own a women's clothing store in a shopping mall.  Yes, there are similar stores nearby, but women buy more clothes than men, so all of you can make a small profit without bothering to offer men's clothing too.  Then, after years of selling only to females, the mall rents a tiny store to a smart entrepreneur that sells to both men and women.  Gradually, the store builds a loyal customer base and eventually becomes the largest and most profitable store in the mall.  Not only does it have the entire menswear market to itself; it also is garnering market share from the traditional women's stores.

Likewise, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC traditionally marketed primarily to Democrat audiences.  Studies show that Democrats watch more TV, so that seemed like the more lucrative target.  But then Fox entered the market and served both conservative and leftist audiences, professing to be "fair and balanced".  As a result, it became the market share leader.

In the clothing store analogy, some women probably vow never to shop in a store that also sells men's clothing.  But others found that the dual-gender store has women's clothes that are just as good or better than the single-gender stores.  Plus, the larger store provides one-stop shopping for them and their male friends.  Similarly, some closed-minded Democrats vow never to watch Fox News, but many find that Fox tells both sides of the story and has coverage that is as good or better than the Democrat-only networks.

Perhaps CBS News finally realized that it's foolish to leave the entire bipartisan market to Fox News, while mud wresting other news outlets for a share of the Democrat-only audience.  Thus, the two favorable CBS stories about Republican politicians.

And when people like Tom Sullivan start spreading the word, a few conservatives might venture over to CBS in hopes of seeing more bipartisan reporting.  Then audience numbers will rise, advertising revenue will rise, and CBS will become more profitable.  Mr. Sullivan lent credibility to this market-share hypothesis by pointing out that the relatively new President of CBS News is a 12-year Fox News veteran.

But what about the partisan CBS journalists?  Off camera, they must be throwing temper tantrums over the change.  And, as AT has pointed out before, Mr. Rose often resorts to "signal jamming" whenever a conservative begins to make a cogent argument, much as the Soviet Union jammed Radio Free Europe.  Could he permanently suppress the urge to continue jamming conservative guests?

Perhaps CBS News executives simply replied, "If you don't like our new policy of bipartisanship, I'm sure someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries."  (My fellow Ghostbusters fans will recognize that line)

Or... does CBS News still want power, even if it means foregoing wealth?

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