For the first time since the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) launched its weekly news content survey last month, a different story led in each of the five sectors in tracks last week--print, online, network TV, radio and cable.
Talk of a possible war with Iran was the top print story, Iraq war news topped online, winter storms got the most coverage on network TV news, Iraq policy led radio, but the continuing story on the death of former Playmate Anna Nicole Smith consumed more coverage than any other story on cable, said the survey, with more than twice as much coverage (20% of the news hole) as the second most-covered story, Iran, at 9%.
The Smith story did not even make the top five stories in any of the other sectors. Why the cable fascination? By way of partial explanation, the PEJ content analysis pointed to a Feb. 16 segment on CNN's Paula Zahn show where she noted that 71% of respondents to a CNN poll had said they were not interested in the story, then said that the story “America’s newest guilty pleasure,” adding, “don’t bother denying it. We’ve seen the ratings, we’ve watched the magazines fly off the rack. We know millions of you are out there.”
PEJ monitors 48 news outlets across the five sectors.