Student Media Watchdog Association

And the winner is…

In Editorial on February 7, 2011 at 5:12 am

By Katherine Bies

The Leash Awards

Welcome to The Leash’s first annual award show blog for television news outlets!

It’s February which means awards show season is about to begin, and I guess you could say we’ve caught the award-giving bug.

However, there will be a slight departure from the typical award giving conduct… These awards focus not on quality of television news content, but quantity. When it comes to the news, we find that quantity is just as important of a measure as quality. Why? Because story selection can have a powerful influence on the way a news viewer sees the world.

According to the agenda setting theory, the news media have a powerful influence on determining what is newsworthy. Since, there is no one objective, omnipresent, determinant of story importance, newsworthiness is artificially constructed by the prominence editors and journalists give to a story when creating a news broadcast. When we watch the news, the stories we find to be the most newsworthy are the stories to which we attribute the most importance.

Many media theorists also believe that story selection and prominence can alter one’s perceptions of the world (the Cultivation Theory). For example, if someone watches a lot of crime-related news stories, they will be more likely to overestimate that amount of crime in the world.

Thus, many media theorists believe that what a news organization finds to be newsworthy can not only impact what you find to be important, but can also impact your worldview.

So, without further suspense, the 2010 winners of television news coverage are…

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Most International/Foreign Affairs Coverage:


Most Domestic Coverage:


Most Election/Campaign Coverage:


Most Coverage on the Economy:


Most Crime Coverage:

FOX News

Most Disaster/Accidents Coverage:

NBC Evening News

Most Entertainment Coverage:

NBC Evening News and CBS Evening News

Most Coverage on Obama/Obama Administration:

FOX News

Most Sarah Palin Coverage:


7 Television News Priorities


Using this program, I was also able to summarize the priorities and focuses of each of these seven television news programs as a guide for viewers- keep in mind that these summaries tell nothing about the quality of content, they just hint at what these organizations focus on.

ABC Evening News- “Human interest”

News program with the most Health/Medicine and Lifestyle coverage. Also the most coverage on the environment.

CBS Evening news- “A little bit of everything?”

News program with most entertainment coverage, and also a focus on disaster, crime, and sports. Has the most coverage on domestic issues such as the economy, immigration, and health care out of NBC, CBS, and ABC.

CNN- “Prone to disaster”

Most coverage of any network on the top “disaster stories” in the US and around the world such as the BP Oil spill, terror threats, the Haitian Earthquake, and the Chilean Miners.

FOX News- “Right leaning”

Most crime coverage and coverage on defense topics such as terror threats and domestic terrorism. Also the most coverage on topics typically contested by conservatives during the past year such as immigration, health care, and Obama’s administration.

MSNBC- “November 2nd or bust!”

Gives most of its attention to domestic issues and election campaigns and coverage. Lowest ranking network on foreign affairs coverage.

NBC Evening news- “Drama, drama, drama”

News program with the most disaster, entertainment, and sports coverage and the least focus on domestic issues such as the economy, immigration, and health care. Also, has a large focus on foreign affairs.

PBS- “Hard News, No Frills”

News program with the greatest focus on foreign affairs, and domestic issues such as court and legal systems, and the economy. Other focuses include science and technology, and business. Has the least amount of entertainment and crime coverage.

Quick note about the data gathering:
These awards are all based on numbers found using the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism interactive tool (I encourage you to try the tool for yourself to see what your favorite news station is reporting on!) I only looked at the following 7 news outlets: PBS, CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, and NBC, ABC, and CBS evening news.

  1. Great summary of the profiles of the different news agencies. I suspected there was a difference in how they approached the news, but never thought that much about the difference. This is much better than relying on the SNL skits to differentiate who provides what type of coverage 🙂

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