In Big Week for News, Cable Nets Vary Widely in Coverage

By Andrew Gauthier 


The two biggest news stories of last week were the earthquake in Haiti and the Massachusetts senate election. According to a new report from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, cable news networks differed significantly in the amount of coverage they devoted to each story.

CNN focused on the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti more than Fox News and MSNBC, and by a large margin according to the report. 60% of CNN’s news coverage was dedicated to Haiti, nearly four times the amount that FNC and MSNBC each carried, and more than twice the amount that all media dedicated to the catastrophe. Much of the news coverage carried by FNC and MSNBC last week was dedicated to the heated senate race in Massachusetts.

CNN doubled its primetime viewership with its coverage of the earthquake aftermath, led by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta who both took a hands-on approach to their reporting. FNC’s decision to focus on the Massachusetts election paid off, though, as the network soared ahead of CNN and MSNBC during the 48 hours surrounding Scott Brown‘s victory. On the night of the election, FNC averaged roughly six times the amount of viewers as CNN and MSNBC, putting the network on its way to becoming the highest rated cable destination for the week.