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My instructor has assigned us the following three topics about which to write. 1. Which of the following media sources has the largest readership or audience: the New York Times, ABC News, Mother Jones or Time Magazine?  2. Were the first newspapers in the United States farmers' almanacs, literary gazettes, partisan political organs, or official government publications? 3. Compared with national television news programs, do local television news programs report less about crime and justice, less about government politics, more about economic and social issues or more about government and politics?

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1. For your first question, the answer is somewhat complex; media and advertisers struggle to calculate this exactly. In the old days of print magazines, the typical circulation figures used were based on a combination of subscriptions and newsstand sales, although that still would not be totally accurate as some people might subscribe to but not read a paper but in other cases (waiting rooms, coffee shops) multiple people might read a single paper. Online views are easier to monitor, but clicks don't necessarily translate into actually reading the content. TV viewership is even more problematic as televisions sometimes run in the background with no one watching. That being said, the numbers normally claimed are: 

  • New York Times total digital and print: 2,178,674 for Monday-Friday and 2,624,277 for weekend editions
  • ABC Evening News: total audience 8,473,000
  • Mother Jones: Total Paid & Verified Circulation 215,199
  • Time Magazine: Print circulation (2013): 3,289,377

2. For your second question, only partisan political organs count as newspapers among these choices. The first periodicals were actually imported British ones, which included miscellaneous reviews as well as newspapers. Indigenous American news sheets and more substantial newspapers started appearing in the early 18th century. The Farmers' Almanac was founded in 1818. Most magazines and newspapers, even literary reviews, tended to have a partisan flavor.

3. The main difference between local and national news programs is that local news addresses issues of local interest. Local crime is covered by local news, as are local politics. Local news also includes discussions of the local economy, albeit often from a less general and abstract perspective and more closely related to such issues as taxes or business openings or closing. Although both local and national news include human interest stories, local news devotes more time to human interest and short features themed around events such as county fairs or local business successes. Local news in large cities tends to resemble national news more than does local news in smaller towns.

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