If it felt like the US cable news media became ‘all-Anna-Nicole-all-the-time’ during the month of February, well, your instincts were at least partly correct. MediaBistro’s TVNewser blog points to this recent study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which, according to the Associated Press, found that “cable news programs devoted 22 percent of their airtime to the Smith story from Feb. 8 to March 2, double the amount given the second-biggest story, the presidential campaign… .”
Flashback: Think Progress compares the MSM’s disproportionate coverage of the death of Anna Nicole and events in Iraq that occurred on the same day.
Update: Courtesy Spiegel Magazine, Larry King has some interesting things to say about the Anna Nicole feeding frenzy and what it says about the state of modern broadcast journalism:
SPIEGEL: How do you prepare for the guests on your show?
King: Not much. By the way, (he says turning to his assistant) what’s on the show tonight, Bridget?
Assistant: Anna Nicole Smith, her autopsy report is coming out today.
King: Oh, no, not again. I hate this show, but it’s the news of the day, so we have to do it. It takes no brains to do Anna Nicole Smith tonight. There is no inventiveness to it, no challenge.
SPIEGEL: Why don’t you just refuse to do these tabloid stories?
King: Of course I could say no. But then they (the network) would say you’ve got to keep up with the ratings. And I do understand what they are facing. You win some, you lose some. But if they were to go too far, then I wouldn’t do it. A colleague once told me that, “If I put a couple having intercourse on TV at 9 p.m., I could win tonight.”
SPIEGEL: The character of news has changed, hasn’t it?
King: That’s the downside.
SPIEGEL: Even a star like you is powerless to stop it?
King: Sometimes it’s easier for management to take the easy way. If you want to do a show on the Middle East you will not get good numbers. Even though you can certainly say that the Middle East is certainly more important than Anna Nicole Smith. Who would deny that?
SPIEGEL: How do you deal with the competition?
King: An absurd competition has broken out between the talk shows. They have Anna Nicole’s brother? Then we need her doctor. Or sister. But it isn’t important. I mean, it has no effect on your life. Would we have done that years ago? In my radio days and in early television maybe one show would have been done about Anna Nicole. But Anna Nicole Smith wouldn’t have been a figure 40 years ago because she didn’t do anything. So it’s a story because it’s a story. Corporations today are run by accountants. In those days they were run by broadcasters, and they understood better what a broadcaster did. Now it comes from accounting and accounting is all about the bottom line
Wonder if King would be so candid and outspoken if this interview had been with a domestic media outlet?