Skip to main content

Top 10 TV News Stories: Anna Nicole Beats Presidential Hopefuls

The death of Anna Nicole Smith, with its sidebars on custody battles and multiple potential fathers, was the the third-most talked-about story in news last week, topping stories on the presidential campaign, Iran, the U.S. budget, and the Scooter Libby trial.

Only Iraq policy issues and breaking news from the front got more coverage, though that breaking news only edged stories about stomach contents and custody fights by a mere 1%.

That's according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's new News Coverage Index , which monitors four dozen news outlets from network TV, cable, online, radio and print in real time.

Smith was Topic A on the cable talk shows in the first two days after her death (Feb. 8 and 9), capturing 37% of the conversations,. Iraq captured only 14% and the presidential race only 9%.

Cable talk was the clear leader, with cable TV hosts devoting "about three times as much time to the subject as their radio counterparts."

The top 10 stories in the general press according to percentage of coverage were:

1. Iraq Policy Debate - 12% 2. Events in Iraq - 10%3. Anna Nicole Smith Dies - 9%4. Campaign 2008 - 8%5. Astronaut Scandal - 6%6. Severe Weather - 3%7. Super Bowl - 3%8. Libby Trial - 3%9. Bush's Budget Proposal - 3%10. Iran - 2%

The top 10 topics on cable and radio talk were:
1. Iraq Policy Debate - 19% 2. 2008 Campaign - 18%3. Anna Nicole Smith Dies - 15%4. Libby Trial - 7% 5. Pelosi Plane Controversy - 4%6. Astronaut Scandal - 4%7. Super Bowl - 4%8. Immigration - 4%9. Iran - 2%10. Iraq War Homefront - 2%

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.