Make us your home page

The Feed

What you're talking about today

Iraq biggest story of decade in network TV news, but almost no reporters of color at the top



Andrea mitchell 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.

Michael-jackson No soft news stories appear in Tyndall's list for the decade, though the death of Michael Jackson ranks sixth for 2009, the only soft news story found there.

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:

Iraq: war, invasion, combat       6445
Israeli-Palestinian conflict         2424 Iranian_troops1

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


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:04pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours