It’s Politics–As Usual–On Cable News Channels After Census Results Revealed

By Alex Weprin 

The results of the 2010 U.S. Census were released today, and as is so often the case, the cable news channels chose to focus on the political implications.

Of course, one of the big reasons behind conducting the Census is so that Congressional seats can be reapportioned to reflect the population. But there are plenty of other important stories to come out of the data.

For example: the Census showed that the U.S. saw the slowest population growth since the Great Depression, and much of the growth, particularly in the Southwestern U.S., was from Hispanics and other minority groups.

Why the U.S. saw such slow growth, and why so much of that growth was from minorities, are ripe subjects for news organizations to look into. Perhaps they will, but for now, the networks have been too busy bringing on political analysts to talk about Republican and Democratic strategy, and how the Census will affect political races still years away.

It was not all strategy, however.

Credit should be given to CNN’s Poppy Harlow, who explored the economic impact of the Census data, and looked at job growth and how it relates to population growth. Harlow’s report, however, came a full half-hour after anchor John King gave the network’s first analysis on the data, focusing on politics.

Should the political angle be covered? Of course. But without any real political implications until 2012, and much redistricting still to be done state-by-state, now would be a great time to look into the bigger picture stories.

Until then, the networks seem to be doing their best to prove TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall right: they are politics channels first, news channels second.