No journalists of color among networks' most visible reporters for second year in a row
When Barack Obama's election was sealed, news outlets across the globe featured stories on how the election of America's first nonwhite president might spark increased diversity in other areas -- from voters giving more politicians of color a chance, to TV networks taking more chances on entertainment series talking about race.
Apparently, the one place where that inspiration didn't land last year was in the network TV newsrooms doing the reporting.
That bit of depressing news comes courtesy of network TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall, who has released his typically thorough accounting of the big three broadcasters' journalism work in 2008, listing the top 20 most-visible TV reporters on the evening news shows (anchors excluded). And not a single journalist of color made this list -- for the second year in a row.
It's a curious turn, given that so many of the top reporters on the list got there by covering the most watched, most diverse election in modern history. NBC's Andrea Mitchell (left) tops Tyndall's list with 355 minutes onscreen, likely for her work covering Hillary Clinton's campaign and, later, the election in general. She's followed by 2007's Number One, ABC News' Jake Tapper (313 minutes) and thirdly by CBS veteran Dean Reynolds (262 minutes).
In fact, despite Mitchell's success, there are only five women on this list, indicating they didn't fare so well covering an election in which Clinton and Sarah Palin were also major figures. This is notable because, with a combined audience of around 20-million viewers, the three network newscasts still draw a far bigger audience than cable news or most any other broadcast news outlet.
Tyndall also notes that the networks turned away from Iraq and other aspects of foreign policy to focus like lasers on the election, the economy and energy prices (tellingly, Mitchell is NBC's chief foreign correspondent but spent much of her time on the election in 2008). Foreign policy coverage was its lowest in 21 years and the White House correspondents at ABC and NBC didn't make the top 20 list -- which means the networks didn't spend much time on ol' George W., either.
As beats change in the wake of a new administration, perhaps these numbers will be different next year. But that's a long time to wait for change, given that I first wrote about this trend last year after seeing Tyndall's numbers for 2007.
TOP 20 MOST HEAVILY USED REPORTERS (Anchors excluded)
NBC, Andrea Mitchell (at right), D.C. Bureau, 355 minutes
ABC, Jake Tapper, Campaign Trail, 313
CBS, Dean Reynolds, Campaign Trail, 262
NBC, Robert Bazell, Medicine, 261
ABC, Betsy Stark, Economy, 245
CBS, Anthony Mason, Economy, 230
ABC, George Stephanopoulos, Political Analysis, 229
NBC, Tom Costello, D.C. Bureau, 224
NBC, Lee Cowan, Campaign Trail, 196
CBS, Nancy Cordes, D.C. Bureau, 195
CBS, Jeff Greenfield, Political Analysis, 182
ABC, David Muir, Domestic, 181
ABC, Dan Harris, Domestic, 178
NBC, Kelly O’Donnell, Campaign Trail, 172
ABC, David Wright, Campaign Trail, 168
CBS, Chip Reid, Campaign Trail, 158
CBS, Steve Hartman, Human Interest, 152
CBS, Sharyl Attkisson, D.C. Bureau, 145
CBS, Ben Tracy, Domestic, 142
CBS, Jim Axelrod, White House, 138
2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign (at right), 288
Financial industry federal bailout, 281
Crude oil, gasoline prices, 273
NYSE-NASDAQ market action, 262
Iraq: US-led combat continues, 244
Automobile industry in trouble, 239
Beijing Summer Olympics, 236
2008 GOP VP Palin nomination, 215
Economy officially in recession, 201
Floods along Mississippi River, 162
2008 Democratic Convention, 154
Obama administration transition, 149
2008 general election vote, 145
Real estate home foreclosures, 127
Afghanistan fighting continues, 126
Tornado season, 126
Mormon sect practices polygamy, 124
Gov. Rod Blagojevich under fire, 122
Total Top 20 Stories, 4750 minutes
(photos: Associated Press and NBC publicity)