May 23, 2002

The War on Terrorism

Network by Network

Looking at the three networks separately, the most significant finding is that the aftermath of September 11 may have brought them all a little closer together. Many of the differences evident in June and even in October have lessened or vanished together.

2002 Evening News Topics by Network
Weekdays, January – April 5
 
Hard News 53.2% 56.6% 52.0%
Celebrity News 1.7 1.5 2.1
Crime/Law/Courts 11.0 14.5 9.6
Business/Economy 11.4 10.6 11.8
Science & Tech. 2.0 2.6 1.1
Lifestyle Features 18.5 12.3 21.6
Religion 2.2 1.9 1.8
Total 100 100 100

Among the evening programs, CBS led in June as the network most committed to hard news (53% compared with 44% at ABC and 39% at NBC) and remained that way in October. So far in 2002, CBS' hard news quotient has risen slightly to 56% while ABC and NBC have seen more substantial increases to 53% and 52% respectively. The change has left the three networks closer to each other than they were last summer.

CBS, which carried very little coverage of the Olympics, compared with ABC and NBC, does stand out for doing fewer lifestyle feature stories. ABC and NBC are more in line with each other.

2002 Morning News Topics by Network
Weekdays, January – April 5
 
Hard News 24.2% 22.2% 21.5%
Celebrity News 16.8 20.8 22.6
Crime/Law/Courts 18.4 11.2 10.2
Business/Economy 3.4 4.1 2.1
Science & Tech. 1.4 2.6 0.9
Lifestyle Features 35.0 38.6 41.6
Religion 0.9 0.5 1.1
Total 100 100 100

Among the three morning news programs, the measurable differences apparent in both June and October of last year have largely vanished as well. The hard news levels are now within two percent of each other, and celebrity and lifestyle stories both fall on a small uphill curve across network with ABC at the bottom and NBC at the top.