Friday, January 09, 2004

Inter Press Service did an interesting piece on the annual report by ADT Research of New York. ADT studies all the news reports from the nightly news programs of the three main US networks for content.

Not surprisingly, the Iraq story drowned out all others, alone getting over 28% of network news’ air time. The top non-Iraq story, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, received less than 2% of air time.

The civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is directly or indirectly responsible for over 3,000,000 deaths in the last five years, received 0.03% (5 minutes) last year.

The AIDS crisis, which claimed some 3,000,000 lives in 2003 alone, got 0.27% of all coverage (39 minutes).

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election to California’s governorship was the top purely domestic story with 1.6% of all airtime.

Surprisingly, the article made no mention of stories on Michael Jackson or Kobe Bryant, which surely dwarfed most of the others.

STORIES LISTED IN THE ARTICLE (14,365 total minutes analyzed)
Iraq-related stories* 4047 network news minutes in 2003
Israeli-Palestinian conflict 284
California recall 239
Domestic terrorism preparedness 205
Columbia disaster 198
SARS in Asia/Canada 178
Blackout 165
Hunt for al-Qaeda 132
Afghanistan 80
Liberia 72
President Bush’s trip to Africa 18
Violence in Colombia 18
Repression in Cuba 18
Global warming 15
Terrorist attacks against tourist sites in Kenya 8
Civil war in DR Congo 5

*-invasion and combat stories, fall of Saddam’s regime, reconstruction, pre-war UN weapons’ inspection controversy

This article deals with network news coverage. But the irony is that proponents of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News (sic) Channel claimed that 24 hour news' channels provide viewers access to a wider variety and breadth of stories. In fact, they simply offer orgy-level coverage of issues (and non-issues) that are already thoroughly reported on by the networks.

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