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Tyndall: Network Evening News Not So Sensational

Media critics love to lament the tabloidization of TV journalism. But if the broadcast networks’ newscasts are any indication, serious beats sensational -- by a long shot.

Last week, Andrew Tyndall, who analyzes TV news in his online Tyndall Report, released his 2007 Year in Review, which ranks the top 20 news stories -- by airtime -- among the three nightly newscasts.

While it’s no surprise that the Iraq war was the year’s top story, at 1,157 minutes total, Tyndall also noted "how strenuously all three network evening newscasts avoid tabloid, celebrity, human-interest or boldface stories."

No such story cracked the top 20. The death of Anna Nicole Smith, perhaps the year’s most salacious story, ranked No. 129 of 253 stories that received at least 10 minutes of coverage, with a mere 21 minutes from ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and NBC’sNightly News with Brian Williams.

"If you wanted to make a serious point about it," Tyndall said, "when Gibson and Couric left their morning shows [ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today, respectively], the news changed them more than they changed the news."

Of course, schlock is still plentiful in the a.m., he said, adding, "That stuff is bread and butter for the morning shows."

With Joel Topcik