At NBC, Olympics Were Bigger News Than Healthcare or Unemployment

I always enjoy Andrew Tyndall‘s year-in-review report, which tallies the minutes each network newscast devoted to the important stories of the year. His 2010 report is worth a look. The most newsworthywoman of the year? GOP Senate hopeful and Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell from Delaware. Tyndall notes that the BP oil disaster was the most-covered story of the year, but that it “prompted no follow-up spike in coverage of energy policy, or global warming.” Coverage of the economy stalled: “Unemployment may still be stubbornly high, yet the newshole for the economy has reverted to the mean. So apparently growth has resumed.”

The differences between networks are somewhat interesting; NBC devoted substantially less time to covering the Afghan War: 91 minutes, versus 150 at ABC and 174 at CBS. They also lagged behind in their coverage of the debate over the healthcare law.

But they were way out in front on one story: the Winter Olympics. NBC gave the Games 84 minutes of coverage, versus 17 and 18 minutes for ABC and CBS. Of course, NBC was broadcasting the Olympics, and the company with those rights generally turns their newscast into apromotional vehicle.

Another way of looking at it: NBC talked more about the Olympicsthan about healthcareor unemployment; the Afghan War was just slightlymore important to their newscast than the Olympic Games. And they wonder why people aren’t watching the network newscasts like they used to….

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.