Tyndall: ABC spends half its evening newscast on 'soft news'

Associated Press | Tyndall Report

For years, NBC has been the ratings leader in evening newscasts, while ABC and CBS trailed behind (in that order). As ratings rise for all three networks, the news they feature has changed under anchors Scott Pelley and Diane Sawyer, says Andrew Tyndall, whose Tyndall Report tracks newscast content:

Pelley has focused on the major abstract foreign and domestic policy issues facing the republic; Sawyer has taken a service approach, addressing the practical daily lifestyle needs of her viewers, while offering inspirational human interest.

The upshot of these two shifts is that NBC Nightly News is now the leader in providing hard breaking news, covering developments within the 24-hour news cycle (2,353 min since the beginning of the year v ABC 1,730, CBS 2,078). By contrast, ABC now devotes more than half of its newshole to the features-interviews-soft-news category (1,906 min year-to-date v CBS 1,684, NBC 1,448).

David Bauder reports that ABC's "soft news" includes a greater emphasis on health, medicine and family stories -- content that is a match for the "World News" audience, which is 60 percent female.

"World News" Executive Producer Michael Corn tells Bauder "the broadcast reflects Sawyer's sense of curiosity and adventure ... It does more on health matters, for example, because health has a real impact on people's lives."

"We believe we lead with the most interesting story of the day," he said. "There's nothing wrong with not being boring."


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