November 6, 2008

What Sports Made The Biggest News in 2008

Number of Stories
2008 Olympics 762
World Series 95
Super Bowl 93
NCAA Basketball 30
Kentucky Derby 13
Masters 6

#2—The World Series rank among 2008 sporting events 

Even with the press poised to cover the final days of the presidential election and the global financial crisis, a story of another sort broke into the top of the news agenda at the end of October. When the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays to win the 2008 World Series on Oct. 29, it was the 7th biggest story the week of Oct. 27 – Nov. 2. In the 48 news outlets studied by PEJ’s News Coverage Index, there were 95 stories about the playoffs and the World Series, enough to make it the second-most covered sporting event so far in 2008.

That was enough attention that the World Series and the playoffs outpaced the 2008 Super Bowl (93 stories). The baseball post season received more than three times the coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament (30 stories), which ranked a distant fourth. The Kentucky Derby (13 stories) and The Masters Golf Tournament (6 stories) followed.

For all that, however, the World Series was dwarfed by the attention paid to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. With 762 stories dedicated to the worldwide games, Olympic coverage outpaced all other sporting events by a margin of 8:1. However, only a little more than half of the coverage (442 stories) was directly related to the events or to athletes. Many Olympic stories focused China’s environmental problems, protests of China’s policies, and international diplomacy between the competing countries. (See The Media’s Olympics to learn more about how the press covered the 2008 games)

Tricia Sartor and Dana Page of PEJ