June 24, 2008

Networks Pull Back on Iraq War Coverage

Coverage of the war in Iraq has been curtailed in 2008 on the three U.S. television networks' evening newscast, a TV consultant reports.

With nearly half of 2008 gone, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007, The New York Times reported.

Information compiled by television consultant Andrew Tyndall indicates CBS Evening News had the fewest minutes devoted to Iraq -- 51 -- compared with 55 minutes on ABC's World News and 74 minutes on NBC Nightly News.

War coverage in Afghanistan, meanwhile, increased slightly in 2008, with 46 minutes of total coverage year-to-date compared with 83 minutes for all of 2007. So far, NBC spent 25 minutes covering Afghanistan, ABC provided 13 minutes and CBS devoted 8 minutes.

We can't afford to maintain operations in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time, CBS' Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan told the Times. It's so expensive and the security risks are so great that it's prohibitive.

CBS News doesn't have a full-time correspondent in Iraq. ABC has a correspondent and NBC's chief foreign correspondent divides time between Iraq and other countries. Cable news stations Fox and CNN both have two full-time correspondents in Iraq.