PEJ Year in Review: On Cable News, Clearly Differentiated Priorities Among Channels

By Alex Weprin 

The Project for Excellence in Journalism released its annual report looking back on the year in media. Among the findings: while Fox News and MSNBC spent a good deal of time covering politics and domestic issues, CNN spent far more time than its competitors covering international news… and some domestic stories as well.

Fox News and MSNBC both spent a plurality of their time covering two stories: the economy, and the 2012 election. MSNBC spent nearly 30% of its newshole covering the economy, and 17% covering the election, while FNC spent 21% of its newshole on the economy and 16% on the election.


In a stark contrast, the top story for CNN was the revolution and unrest in the Middle East, which took up 21% of the newshole, more than FNC and MSNBC combined. CNN covered the economy (14%) and the election (10%) but did far less than its competition. CNN also gave other stories more coverage than its cable news competitors, according to PEJ’s Year in the News interactive feature.

The devastating tornadoes in Joplin and the midwest took up only 0.2% of MSNBC’s newshole, and 0.5% of FNCs. On CNN it took up 1.8%. CNN also spent more time covering the death of Osama bin Laden and the “News of the World” hacking scandal than either FNC or MSNBC.

Fox News meanwhile spent substantially more time than both CNN and MSNBC covering stories about the Mexican drug war, often with a focus on the “Fast & Furious” scandal.