The Q3 Pew Study on the Media is out. As with all Pew Studies, this one is thick. The above chart is from the News Judgement section…
The oldest of the three cable news operations and the one with the broadest global reach, CNN devoted the most coverage to events inside Iraq (4%), its fifth-biggest story of the year. It was also the only one of the three cable competitors to include the recalls of pet food and Chinese products among its top 10 stories, at 2%. Given Lou Dobbs’ constant attention to the subject, immigration, the fourth-biggest story at 6%, is a bigger subject on CNN than either of its two competitors.
The Fox News Channel, which according to one’s viewpoint either tilts to the right or is a refreshing antidote to predominant liberal bias, devoted more coverage than its rivals to two threats to U.S. national security. Domestic terrorism issues were No. 3 at 5% and the simmering tensions between Iran and the U.S. were the sixth biggest story at 4%. It also devoted more airtime than CNN and MSNBC to the two big celebrity crime cases. O.J.’s run-in with the law was the fifth biggest at 4% while Michael Vick’s dogfighting bust, at 2%, was the tenth-biggest story.
MSNBC, which promotes itself as a source for political news—“the place for politics” is one of its slogans—and has more implicitly acknowledged efforts to develop a more liberal prime-time lineup (they were interested in giving Rosie O’Donnell a show), showed that its marketing is also backed up by its story selection. It easily devoted the most airtime to the campaign (19%), compared to 11% at Fox and 7% at CNN. MSNBC also provided more coverage to Larry Craig (No. 3 story at 5%), the Valerie Plame outing case that resulted in the conviction of Scooter Libby (No. 6 at 3%), the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (No. 8 at 2%) and the resignation of Karl Rove (No. 10 at 2%) than either of its competitors.
Moreover, MSNBC front-loaded heavily on its two top stories. Combined, the presidential campaign (19%) and the Iraq policy debate (18%) filled 37% of the network’s overall newshole in the quarter. At CNN, it took the top six stories combined to fill 37% of the newshole and on Fox, it took the top seven stories to reach that level.