Developments in both the missing Malaysian jet and Ukraine stories put TV news outlets in high gear Thursday morning. At 11 a.m. ET, the networks broke into regular programming to cover Obama’s announcement of more sanctions against Russia. Cable and network news is clearly gearing up for a wall-to-wall coverage frenzy when the mystery of the missing plane is finally solved.
When it comes to broadcast TV, little has changed since the CBS newsman’s critical 1958 speech to the RTNDA. While the evening news format still exists, coverage of the world has diminished. If a story cannot be summed up in a minute or two, odds are it won’t make the news. The more complex the issue, the less likely it will be explored.
The three broadcast network evening newscasts have been in a downward trend since the days of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather. But for the first time since the 2001-02 season, all the three evening newscasts saw an increase in total viewers year-over-year.
Hold the obituary. Finally, there’s some good news for network TV news. Ratings are up this year, both evening and morning, and not just a little. But hold the celebration, too, because it could just be a blip.