Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Sense of Priorities?

From a news release distributed by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, noting that the post-election protests in Iran had dominated the news early last week before the Mark Sanford story and the death of Michael Jackson began to fill the headlines and airwaves:

From the time it was announced Jackson had died through the end of the day Friday—a little more than 28 hours—60% of the news coverage studied across 55 different news outlets was devoted to Jackson’s death. And that does not include the broadcast network prime time specials devoted to the singer’s demise—two of them for two hours Thursday night and one for a single—the extra hours of morning news and more.

All media sectors covered Jackson heavily, but it was cable news channels that led the way. Fully 93% of cable coverage studied on the Thursday and Friday following his death was about the King of Pop. On the front pages of Friday morning newspapers, 37% of their coverage was Jackson-related compared to 55% of the leading online coverage.

If anyone needed proof of how much the media culture has changed it might be this. When Elvis Presley died in 1977, CBS News was criticized for choosing not to lead its newscast with it.
By comparison, the story about legislation that will most seriously affect the daily lives of American citizens was virtually ignored:
Breaking late in the week, Friday, the House passage of historic legislation to impose limits on global warming received relatively marginal coverage, roughly 2%.
I'm not sure if this misplaced sense of priorities reflects more badly on the news media or on news consumers, the American people.

H/T: TVNewser.

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