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How the Evening Newscasts Reported the Death of Muammar Gaddafi

The three U.S. evening newscasts spent a combined 32 minutes and 45 seconds on the killing of Muammar Gaddafi on their newscasts Thursday evening, extending their first blocks beyond the 10-minute mark.

A Libyan news anchor smiles while reporting the news of Muammar Gaddafi's death, as shown on NBC Nightly News Thursday night.

NBC spent 11:02 on the story, leading off with chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel on set in New York. Then reports from Adrienne Mong, the only U.S. network correspondent in Misrata, Libya, Jim Miklaszewski was at the Pentagon, Andrea Mitchell had a look-back on Gaddafi’s life and Brian Williams had an on-set interview with a counter-terrorism official.

ABC’s “World News” anchored by George Stephanopoulos spent 10:45 on the story, leading off Christiane Amanpour on set. Amanpour had the most recent U.S. network interview with Gaddafi in late February as the insurgency was flaring up. Later on “Nightline” Amanpour had an interview with an American woman who had worked for the Gaddafi family up until just a few months ago. She’d set up the Amanpour-Gaddafi interview. Jake Tapper reported from the White House, David Muir talked with a man who lost his brother in the Pan Am 103 bombing and Barbara Walters was on set to talk about her interview with the “Mad Dog of the Middle East” in 1989. Stephanopoulos added he’d interviewed Gaddafi in 2003.

The “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” spent 10:58 on the story, including the lead which was tracked by Pelley and a Skype interview with freelance American journalist Holly Pickett who rode the ambulance with Gaddafi in his final moments. Kitty Logan reported from Tripoli, David Martin was at the Pentagon, Mark Phillips had a look-back and Jim Axelrod reported on the families of the survivors of the Pan Am 103 bombing.

We’ve embedded several stories after the jump…

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Network News Chiefs: ‘The audience ultimately will make the decision as to whether we are still relevant or capable or not’

At The Atlantic‘s Washington ideas Forum this afternoon, the magazine brought together the three networks news chiefs for a panel discussion. James Fallows spoke to NBC’s Steve Capus, ABC’s Ben Sherwood and CBS’ David Rhodes discussed the future of the evening newscasts, broadcast journalism’s relevance in an digital world, and what their organizations have planned for the future.

Fallows began the conversation with something of a loaded question, asking if the network newscasts should even exist in a world where news is available from a plethora of outlets, 24/7. Sherwood noted that the three evening newscasts saw higher ratings this year than they did last year.

“I still think they are incredibly important outlets and forums,” Capus said. “I disagree that it shouldn’t exist. You look at the size of the audiences that gather every night, they are still substantial.”

“It is true I was in cable for 15 years until February, but I think the one misnomer in the sort of dialogue about these newscasts or these news division is that credibility has become quaint” Rhodes added. “It has not.”

Capus was asked whether the politically polarizing network that he oversees, MSNBC, hurts NBC’s news credibility. He responded by arguing that no, it does not, but that the environment on cable news does not necessarily lend itself to good journalism.
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Networks Detail the Terror at Joplin Hospital

St. John’s Medical Center stands out among the devastation in Joplin, MO. It still stands, seriously damaged — windows blown out, two top floors gone — while the neighborhood around it is flattened. That may be why each of the evening newscasts, who all dispatched anchors to Joplin — featured the hospital in stories tonight. Brian Williams called St. John’s a “landmark in Joplin” which has “become an iconic picture” of the devastation all around. Diane Sawyer reported the “World News” piece on St. John’s, doing one interview, with a medical flight manager who was inside the hospital, in the driving rain.




Are the Evening Newscasts Going One-Hour Again Tonight?

Updated: Yesterday evening the three network evening newscasts offered a second half-hour to affiliates, making the programs one-hour long.

With the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death still somewhat fresh, NBC says that “NBC Nightly News” will once again be making a second half-hour available to affiliates tonight.

Last night the program had close to 80% of affiliates take the one-hour version.

“CBS Evening News”will return to its regular 30 minute format this evening.

ABC News is planning a regular, 30 minute edition of “World News”

Change at ‘CBS Evening News’ merits story on ‘Nightly News’ and ‘World News’

On their respective newscasts both Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer made note of Katie Couric‘s decision to leave the CBS Evening News. Sawyer called Couric her “colleague and friend.” Williams referred to her as “our friend and NBC News alum.” Shepard Smith reported the news on FOX Report and a handful of affiliates, mostly CBS stations, reported the story as well. Couric did not mention her departure on tonight’s CBS Evening News which she anchored from London.

How the Evening Newscasts Reported the deaths of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros

British by birth, photojournalist Tim Hetherington called Brooklyn home. He was a dual citizen of the U.S. and the U.K. and much of his work at war was for American broadcasters. During his career, Hetherington had worked for ABC News and CNN. Hetherington and Getty photographer Chris Hondros, were killed yesterday during shelling in Misrata, Libya.

As for how the deaths were reported on the evening newscasts Wednesday, NBC’s Brian Williams, ABC’s Diane Sawyer and CBS’s Harry Smith in for Katie Couric reported short voice over stories, with Williams using a soundbite from Hetherington on “Morning Joe” last September.

All three broadcasts then went to their correspondents in Libya for the latest news: CBS’s Allen Pizzey, one of the few journalists to make it into Misrata, also reported on how Hetherington died during a Q&A with Smith: “Just bad luck as far as I can tell. Wrong place, wrong time. What can you say.” NBC’s Stephanie Gosk and ABC’s Miguel Marquez reported on the fighting from Benghazi.

All three stories after the jump…

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Evening Newscasts Cover One-Year Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon Disaster

The network evening newscasts are preparing to cover the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which happened a year ago today.

Anne Thompson will report for “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” tonight, focusing on the environmental impact of the disaster. Thompson spent 80 days in the Gulf region last year. Williams himself anchored his program from Louisiana on Monday night.

Mark Strassman will lead the coverage on the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” tonight. Strassman, who spent weeks in the Gulf last year, has been covering the story all week for CBS News.

Matt Gutman has been covering the anniversary for “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer,” and the broadcast will continue its coverage tonight.

Elsewhere: NBC News is planning a livechat with Thompson at 1:30 Pm ET, while the three network morning shows covered the anniversary this morning:

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Nightly Newscasts Dying? Maybe Not

It is undeniably true that over the last few decades, the viewership levels for the network evening newscasts have been slowly declining. But as Kansas City Star TV critic and columnist Aaron Barnhart writes, there may yet be some life in the format:

Viewership for the four network newscasts has actually increased by more than 1 million since 2006. Yes, four newscasts: I have included “Fox Report With Shepard Smith” because the Fox News Channel, alone among cable networks, has a newscast of record and because it’s an option for viewers repelled by Couric’s so-called liberal slant.

Viewership over the half-decade has gone down at the two networks with female anchors and up at the two networks with male anchors. In fairness to Diane Sawyer, “ABC World News Tonight” lost a lot of its audience in the waning months of Charlie Gibson’s time there, and her audience has actually leaped up by 1.2 million viewers in 2011.

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Would Katie Couric’s Departure Mark the Beginning of the ‘Post-Anchor Era’?

Slate’s Jack Shafer tackles the Katie Couric/CBS News situation, and uses the incident to discuss the broadcast evening news programs more generally.

Shafer argues that Couric’s departure is inevitable, as network TV news enters what he calls “The post-anchor era.”

The explosion of news choices on cable and the Web have made the evening news an anachronism enjoyed mostly by an audience of older and less highly educated viewers, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. If there is little prestige, honor, and future being the anchor of the No. 1 show chasing an audience that is becoming smaller, older, and is less-educated, imagine how the No. 3 anchor must have felt.

As Shafer notes, Couric had a huge uphill ratings battle when she joined CBS, as all three evening news programs had been losing viewers, a trend that has continued. In other words, Couric was battling for a larger slice of a pie that was getting smaller.

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Broadcast Networks To Carry Obama News Conference on Earthquake

ABC, NBC and CBS are planning special reports around 12:30 PM for President Obama’s news conference. Obama will address the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan and which are beginning to hit U.S. soil.

Katie Couric will anchor for CBS News, Ann Curry will anchor for NBC News (Update: Brian Williams ended up anchoring the report) and Diane Sawyer will anchor for ABC News.

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