Prior to the Sept. 11 events, the three network evening newscasts had devoted a total of 27 1/2 minutes this year to Osama bin Laden, 17 minutes to stories about threats to American interests in the Middle East, and 7 1/2 minutes to the bombing of the USS Cole — versus two hours and 59 minutes to the Chandra Levy/Gary Condit story and one hour and 30 minutes to stories about shark attacks, according to the Washington DC-based Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Another study, the Tyndall Report, concluded that the foreign bureaus of the major networks provided only a third as many minutes of foreign news coverage in 2000 than they did in 1989. Meanwhile, today’s New York Times quotes CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson as saying that the Sept. 11 events “helped all of us regain our focus. … It’s injected a note of real seriousness. And the things we think of doing to chase ratings now pale in comparison to the importance of doing this story seriously and reliably.”