Skip to main content

PEJ: Olympics Dominate NBC’s News, Too

NBC's wall-to-wall coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games extended to its news hole, as well.

According to a news analysis by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, stories about China and the Olympics constituted almost one-half of the news hole (48%) for Today and NBC Nightly News, or about three times the Olympics coverage of other news outlets.

MSNBC, by contrast, stuck to politics for its news/talk shows.

Not surprisingly, Michael Phelps dominated news out of the Games just as he did the other swimmers in the Games.

His successful race for a record eight Olympic gold medals was the focus of more than one-quarter (26.6%) of all the stories out of the Games, according to PEJ, and Phelps received seven times more coverage than any other athlete. Swimming stories accounted for almost 40% of all news coverage, followed by gymnastics with 11% and track and field with 10%.

Next to Phelps, the U.S. gymnast Nastia Liukin got the next-most news coverage, with 4% of the Olympics coverage total.

Swimming was so dominant that the No. 3 newsmaker out of the games was an athlete who hadn't competed in decades, Mark Spitz, whose record of seven gold medals during one Games was broken by Phelps.

The study was based on analysis of almost 400 stories from 48 news outlets, including domestic networks, cable, online and print sources, and some Web sites from newspapers in China, Russia and Great Britain.