An Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print



An Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print


Given the wide range of organizations that are operating in the media industry today, it is necessary to investigate whether the US citizens that use these news sources obtain the same information regarding the most important topics. Given that different institutional constraints impact various news organizations differently, it is expected that these media houses will produce varying agendas. To test this idea, news from three different organizations are traced on three consecutive days. The activity involves watching one national television newscast, reading one major US newspaper, and international English-language newsprint.  The three organizations chosen are NBC News, The Washington Post, and The Globe and Mail.

Description of the News Organizations

The NBC News makes the news division of NBC’s Television Network. This news section is managed by NBC Universal News Group, which is owned by NBC Universal (“NBC Universal”, 2018). In turn, the NBC Universal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation. American’s top-rated newscast, NBC Nightly News, is presided over by NBC News. The popularity and strength that the NBC Television Network exhibits are as a result of the strong national identity of NBC. The news organization has continued to provide free programming to the public over the years by selling advertising time. The company’s overall broadcast service is boosted by affiliated television stations. For instance, its broadcast is transmitted to hundreds of affiliated stations that are independently owned in the US. It, therefore, reaches approximately 99% of homes through the broadcasting of its signals by these stations. Apart from airing the company’s national broadcasting, the affiliates take part in the production of local news about public affairs and sports.An Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

The Washington Post refers to an American daily newspaper that is produced in Washington, D.C. The company publishes daily editions for Maryland and District of Columbia. Other copies are produced for Virginia. All of them are published in form of broadsheets. Washington Post Digital, which is produced by the media organization, seeks to inform and entertain online readers (“The Washington Post”, 2018). It is regarded by most of its audience as a trustful source of information. The company engages its readers with hot topics of each day through on mobile or computers. Throughout the country, the Washington Post Digital reaches more than 90.2 million people.An Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

The Globe and Mail is a Canadian newspaper. It is printed in five of the country’s cities located in the western and central regions. It is the most read newsprint in the country on Saturday and weekdays. On these days, the Globe engages Canadians through its coverage of business, political developments, and other news. Taken together the digital format and print of The Globe and Mail reach approximately 6 million readers every week (“The Globe and Mail”, 2018). The organization is owned by Woodbridge, which in turn belongs to Thomson family.

Purpose and Procedure-an Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print-an Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

The paper investigates a common interest among most news consumers. The majority of Americans would like to know whether they get the view about the world, politics, and business when they watch national television newscast or read the national or international newspapers. Most consumers would like to establish if any differences exist among these sources. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to investigate differences in the way in which the selected news organizations portray the most important topics. To achieve this, a number of stories covered by the television and two newsprints are traced over a period of three days from April 1, 2018, to April 3, the same year.  A comparison of the extent to which each source is devoted to a given topic helps to determine the level of attention for each organization. Furthermore, analysis of the content covered will be used to determine the contribution of these sources to common national agendas. The news organizations will also be compared in terms of their scope. This will involve analyzing the extent of diversification or concentration of its coverage across various topics.

Hypotheses-an Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

Before conducting the research, it was hypothesized that the ability of individual news organizations to follow hot stories is influenced by institutional constraints. Since these constraints vary from one media houses to another, different organizations will behave differently. When comparing news items from different sources, indications of multiple agendas are expected to become evident. The national and international newsprint agenda is distributed widely and covers different policy topics. It is also expected the Washington Post newspaper will cover wide-ranging topics. On the other hand, the NBC Nightly News will concentrate on just a few topics.

Results-an Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

On April 1, 2018, three top stories were covered during the NBC Nightly News.  First, the news organization highlighted the story about the plan by teachers in Oklahoma to organize for a walkout as they follow the footsteps of their counterparts in other states including Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky. According to this source, they are demanding for more classroom funding and pay rise. In another prominent story, the NBC Nightly News reported about new clues that the police had found in relation to the SUV belonging to the Hart family. According to California Highway Patrol, the vehicle could have been purposefully driven off a cliff at a high speed. Lastly, a story about a Chinese space station that was spinning out of control was covered in detail.  None of these stories, however, was covered by The Washington Post on April 1, 2018. Its most prominent story was titled “A Sanctuary of One” and focused on a certain woman that faces deportation and as a result, a tiny church in Colorado has become her only refuge. Equally, The Globe and Mail covered different stories. Its main story was about changes that Michael Latimer had effected being the CEO of OMERS.

On April 2, 2018, three prominent stories featured during NBC Nightly News. The first story covered the ongoing strike in Oklahoma as teacher demanded pay rises. Next, developments in the stock market were reported. The source specified that growing concern in the stock sector about consumer backlash and a likely trade war between the US and China are the main factors that weighed on the market. The last prominent story was about the possibility of a face-to-face meeting between the Trump and Putin being held in the white house at a time when the relations between the US and Russia is extremely strained. None of these stories, however, were covered by The Washington Post or The Globe and Mail. The American newspaper’s main story was title “The CDC’s” and focused on the address made by the new director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington.  However, it covered the three main stories that had previously been aired on NBC Nightly News. On the other hand, The Globe’s main story was captured using the title “Assisted death allows a couple of 73 years to die together”.An Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

On April 3, 2018 the most prominent stories for NBC Nightly News included the shooting that had taken place at the YouTube headquarters, escalation of Trump’s efforts to crack down on the illegal immigration by sending US troops to guard the border, and the empty schools in Oklahoma as teachers continue with their protest demanding for better pay.  This strike was also covered by The Washington Post on the same day. In addition, the newsletter contained a story about Trump’s move to safeguard the border and Putin visit to the White House being on the table. Apart from the story about teacher’s strike, the three other stories featured on The Globe and Mail.


From the observation carried out, it is evident that there is lack of consistent portrayal of events presented in the news from one organization to the other. Even though two sources may report on one given topic, the probability is high that they will frame it differently.  For instance, while the NBC Nightly News carried the highlight “President Trump cracking down on illegal immigration”, The Washington Post frontline covering the same story read “Trump heats up rhetoric on border, immigration”. This could be as a result of god or biased journalism. However, the differences in the way a story is framed and the tone in which the reporter tells the story can have a major effect on the way the public perceives the topic.  In the given case, The Washington Post creates the notion that Trump is unable to act. The paper seems to be criticizing him for failing to fulfill the promises he had made before. The Washington Post covers the story in a way that suggests that the president is only using his present hardline stance to win the support of his conservative base.An Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

It was evident that most of the major world news reported by NBC Nightly News also featured in the Daily Post and Canada’s The Globe and Mail. The media market in Canada and the US is highly competitive. As a result, most news outlets have a tendency to mimic the content covered by one another (Wilkins, 2005). This helps them to avoid being pushed out of the market by the competitor. Moreover, different news organizations seek to satisfy their customers by covering the hot and important topics being discussed by everyone at a given point in time (Hamilton, 2004). Consequently, most news outlets will be attracted by the current and important events as a result of an organization’s strategy. It is also important to note that most journalist and editors will develop a frenzy of interest in the latest topics.

The mimicking behavior portrayed by the three organizations studied is one of the reasons that make news coverage to change in fits as opposed to experiencing incremental variations. For instance, the story about Chinese space station that was covered by NBC Nightly News on April 1, 2018, was also covered by The Washington Post the following day. Additionally, the effects of institutional constraints vary from one organization to another. According to Baumgartner and Jones (2002), operations and output of a news outlet are influenced by its institutional structure. Most of the news covered by The Globe and Mail are occurrences that have taken place in Canada. This outlet’s agenda has been set by the structure of the institution in which it operates. Its main agenda is to provide local news to Canadians. On the other hand, the NBC Nightly News agenda is to inform Americans about the current national and international news

The two national newspapers namely The Washington Post and The Globe and Mail have a bigger size and have relatively financial strengthen. Unlike the NBC Nightly News, however, these news outlets boast of having a broad constituency base. Consequently, they must approach news from a diverse perspective. To ensure their survival is guaranteed, national newspapers must gain the attention of their audience. Since they serve citizens with different interests in news items, they must present their readers with different topics that range from domestic policy issues to international developments. Additionally, they must report on economic initiatives taking place at the federal level and also cover local-level developments. Furthermore, these newspapers must also cover non-policy topics such as the weather.

It was evident that while the NBC Nightly News covered the day’s events on time, it took much longer for the same story to appear in the newspapers. For instance, April 1, 2018, NBC Nightly News reported about the Chinese space station that was pining out of control on the very same day that this event happened. However, it would take several more hours for the readers of The Washington Post and The Globe and Mail to read this information. This is because composing in-depth articles for newspaper requires a great amount of effort and time. Since it takes time for the national newspaper to change their agenda, they tend to exhibit the lowest volatility.

It was evident that the NBC Nightly News had a lower scope compared to that of the newspapers. On the three days, the NBC Nightly News program took approximately 17 minutes. Due to this kind of organizational structure, there is great pressure for this news to concentrate on the day’s events that are related to policy. On the other hand, the audience of the newspapers evaluates them on the basis of their wide and accurate coverage of issues. As a result, newspapers have a higher scope than the NBC Nightly News.An Analysis of News Coverage Across Television and Print

In conclusion, it is evident that different news sources report different things when covering stories. The agenda set by each new outlet is determined by the prevailing institutional constraints. The NBC Nightly News is also concentrated on few stories. Moreover, it tends to be highly volatile compared to The Washington Post and The Globe and Mail. The present research is likely to be of benefit to Americans that rely on one news organization to obtain information about national and international developments.




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Hamilton, J. (2004). All the news that’s fit to sell: How the market transforms information into news. Princeton University Press.

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