The Top Stories On The Nightly Newscasts

(CBS/AP)
Andrew Tyndall has calculated the top twenty stories of 2006 on the three nightly newscasts and put together a handy chart to show the results. We have reprinted a portion of the chart, organized by the number of minutes spent on each topic, below. A few facts not on our chart: CBS led the way in total Iraq coverage, with 706 minutes of coverage versus NBC's 660 and ABC's 643; and NBC led the way in campaign 2006 coverage, with 152 minutes of coverage to CBS' 122 and ABC's 102.
             THE TOP TWENTY STORIES OF 2006
Total ABC CBS NBC
Iraq: US-led combat continues 1131 343 398 389
Israel-Hezbollah fighting 578 177 196 205
Hurricane Katrina aftermath 367 102 75 190
September 11th attacks aftermath 229 76 67 87
Oil, gasoline prices rise 207 60 65 82
Illegal immigration debate 202 47 77 78
Iraq: sectarian violence flares 187 53 54 80
Iraq: war-zone journalists attacks 170 58 73 39
Campaign 2006: Dems win House 165 51 58 57
North Korea N-weapons program 162 53 54 55
al-Qaeda manhunts, detention 144 48 51 46
West Virginia coal mine explosion 132 42 36 53
Iran N-weapons program feared 131 42 48 41
NYSE-NASDAQ market action 129 22 39 68
Torino Winter Olympic Games 106 29 4 73
Auto industry financial troubles 100 32 24 45
Rep Mark Foley (R-FL) scandal 99 32 37 31
Airlines anti-terrorism security 99 32 34 33
War on Terrorism: global effort 97 30 30 37
Iraq: Saddam's Baath aftermath 92 32 31 29
There's a lot here to be encouraged by: While many may fret about the creep of soft news, the top stories in the evenings were almost all on serious topics. (There's not, thankfully, a Britney, Lindsay or Paris to be seen.) It's tough to argue with Iraq in the top spot, as it was clearly the defining story of the year, one that touched everything from politics to the military to the war on terror.

CBS, notably, devoted the least time of the big three nightly newscasts to Hurricane Katrina, as well as the Sept. 11 attacks; the "Evening News" seems less interested at looking at big events from past years as its competitors. Beyond that, the most striking aspect of this chart is the uniformity of it – on most topics, the three networks were within minutes of each other in terms of total coverage, which suggests that there is less difference between the broadcasts than one might expect -- or hope.

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