Robservations: May ratings show TV news turning off viewers

Chicago at night

Robservations on the media beat:

Late-news ratings took another hit in May, with viewership down more than 17 percent in key adult demographics for all of Chicago’s 10 p.m. Monday-through-Friday newscasts. Nielsen numbers for the May sweep showed overall ratings dropped 12.8 percent from last year and 17.6 percent among viewers between 25 and 54. Analysts offered a variety of explanations for the decline, including erosion of audience to digital media, time-shifting among primetime viewers, and lower levels of homes using television versus last May. One source cited “news fatigue” by consumers since the presidential election. In total households and adult demos, ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 finished first in all afternoon and evening news races, while Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9 won in mornings.

The Mash

The Chicago Tribune is pulling the plug on The Mash, the award-winning newspaper and website written for and by high school students in the Chicago area, effective June 9. Billed as “the voice of teen Chicago” since 2008, it was distributed free every other Thursday to high schools, libraries and teen centers. With Tribune staffers serving as mentors, the paper gave a start to writers who’ve gone on to careers in the media. It also promoted literacy and stronger news consumption among young people. “For nine years, the program has fostered a community of young journalists in Chicago, and we’ve been so proud and grateful to be the place so many teens started their journey in this industry,” editor Lauren Chval wrote.


Univision Radio has sold north suburban WVIV FM 103.1 to the Polish National Alliance for $5.5 million. It’s expected to air time-brokered ethnic programming similar to Alliance Radio's west suburban WPNA AM 1490. Univision Radio has been using 103.1 FM to simulcast the Spanish contemporary “Latino Mix” format of southwest suburban WVIX FM 93.5. But with the company moving WVIX to a more powerful transmitter in Lemont, the other signal is no longer needed.

Doug Ray

Paddock Publications, owner of the Daily Herald, grew larger last week with the purchase of Lawton Publishing, based in Spokane, Washington. The addition boosts Paddock’s Town Square Publications custom publishing group subsidiary. “Like other acquisitions in recent years, the purchase of Lawton Publishing assets is in keeping with our strategic plan to grow Paddock’s business in new and different ways,” Doug Ray, chairman, CEO and publisher of Paddock Publications, told employees. “Combined with the strength of the Daily Herald brand in print and digitally, events, other specialty products and commercial printing, Paddock continues to be a more diversified company, helping to sustain a brighter future for the company and its employees.”

Chris Berry

Chris Berry, who spent a decade in Chicago at CBS Radio all-news WBBM AM 780 and rose to director of news and programming in the ’90s, has been promoted to senior vice president of news, talk and sports programming at iHeartMedia. In addition to his new role, he’ll continue as senior vice president and general manager of NBC News Radio and iHeartMedia’s 24/7 News Network.

ABC 7 News