May 25, 2007

Iraq Dominates PEJ’s First Quarterly NCI Report

News Radio

If the 2008 presidential campaign was a hot topic on talk radio in the first quarter of the year, it had much less of a presence on another radio platform—NPR’s “Morning Edition.”  Not surprisingly, those two very different radio sectors had noticeably divergent news agendas for the first three months of 2007.

Public radio and the talk hosts both spent more time on the Iraq policy debate than any other story (15% on NPR compared with 19% in talk). But NPR spent a lot less time on the 2008 race for the White House (3% compared with 14% for the talkers) and considerably more time on events inside Iraq (7% versus 1% for talk).

In addition, several subjects that made “Morning Edition’s” top-10 story list—such as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2%) and U.S. economic conditions (2%) —failed to get on the talkers’ radar screen. Conversely, the president’s State of the Union Address (2%) and domestic terrorism issues (1%) that were on the talkers’ top-10 story list did not make the NPR roster.

Yet another kind of radio news, the syndicated ABC and CBS radio headlines, revealed its own set of news priorities. After the Iraq policy debate and events in Iraq, the third biggest story in those headlines were storms and severe weather (4%). And by consuming 3% of the headlines’ newshole, the Anna Nicole Smith saga turned out to be the seventh biggest story.