COMMENTS: When Coverage Peters Out

The rule of thumb here at Tyndall Report that indicates when a major story has come to the end of its dominance of the news agenda is to look out for animal features. When sentimental tales of forlorn pets or displaced wildlife close a newscast, then we know that all other more newsworthy angles have been exhausted. There are two penultimate warning signs that the story is near to running out its string, but not quite yet--news media stories about how the news media is covering the story; and sentimental tales of children, the precursor to animals.

So even though the refugee crisis of 5m homeless in Sichuan Province will be a concern inside China for years to come, American interest in the killer earthquake there appears to be on the wane. NBC's Mark Mullen filed that warning sign story on media coverage last Thursday. CBS, for the second straight day, had no correspondent file from the earthquake zone. And now both NBC and ABC are visiting camps to tell us about the plight of children. NBC had Mullen file In Depth from Mianyang on grief counseling for the newly orphaned while ABC's Stephanie Sy profiled a trio of American ex-patriate volunteer jokesters from Heart to Heart International in Xiao Ba: "They started entertaining the children. The kids are laughing again; in fact they cannot stop smiling."


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