Iraq biggest story of decade in network TV news, but almost no reporters of color at the top
It's your classic good news/bad news scenario: For those who grouse about the superficiality of TV news, recent data shows the top most-covered stories on the decade were super-substantive -- the war in Iraq, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, fighting in Afghanistan and the hijacked jets on Sept. 11.
But for those who hoped the inauguration of the country's first black president might add more diversity to news coverage, the data was more disappointing.
Just one reporter of color landed among the top 20 most-used reporters of the decade -- 60 Minutes correspondent Byron Pitts -- and no reporters of color were featured in the top 20 list for 2009. NBC's Andrea Mitchell, left, was at the top of that heap.
That's what struck me about the lists released by network TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall, who painstakingly tabulates data on coverage of the three network news programs. His year-end lists tallies the most-covered stories and most-used reporters, offering an interesting look at where the top TV news divisions focused the nation's attention over the past 10 years.
As NBC News' foreign affairs correspondent, Mitchell was the most-used correspondent of the decade, with 2,416 minutes onscreen. Given that six of the top 10 stories of the decade involved the middle East, that makes lots of sense. Other top reporter include NBC's medical reporter Robert Bazell, NBC's Justice correspondent Pete Williams and CBS' Pentagon correspondent David Martin.
Instead, network TV news remained defiantly old school over the decade, devoting more than 12,000 minutes to Iraq, Afghanistan and Israeli/Palestinian issues while devoting significant time to Hurricane Katrina, oil prices and the stock market.
Here's hoping 2010 brings a little more progress on the diversity front, so a wider range of journalists get a shot at the biggest jobs in TV journalism.
Top five stories of the decade, with minutes of airtime on all three nertworks:
Afghanistan fighting 2372
Hijacked jets attacks on 9/11 2339
NYSE-NASDAQ market action 1951
Top five most-used reporters of the decade, with minutes
NBC Andrea Mitchell Diplomatic 2416
NBC Robert Bazell Medicine 2328
NBC Pete Williams Justice 2280
CBS David Martin Pentagon 2096
NBC David Gregory White House 2082
Top five stories of 2009
Healthcare reform debate 588
Influenza: H1N1 virus outbreak 580
Afghanistan fighting escalates 556
Economy in recession, stimulus 336
Automobile industry bankruptcy 297
Top five reporters of 2009
ABC Jake Tapper White House 370
CBS Chip Reid White House 341
NBC Robert Bazell Medicine 312
NBC Chuck Todd White House 288
NBC Tom Costello DC Bureau 242