Blond ambition stirs newsies

Smith's death a hot topic on cable nets

She may be famous just for being famous, but for cable TV, the death of Anna Nicole Smith is proving just as newsworthy as those of Princess Di and JFK Jr.

Coverage of the Feb. 8 passing of the Playboy playmate-turned-heiress consumed 50% of all time devoted to news on cable news channels for two straight days, according to the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

The story of Smith’s death and subsequent cus-tody battle was the third most-reported story across all media during the week ended Feb. 9, behind the Iraq policy debate and coverage of the war in Iraq, but Smith’s death loomed much larger on cable news, which made her its top story of the week.

While cable outlets devoted 21% of their news time to Smith during that first week, newspapers gave just 4% of their news hole to the story and network TV spent just 6% of their time on it.

And cable was the only medium for which the death of Smith was the top story. It ranked seventh among newspapers, fifth online, fourth on the radio, and fifth on network TV, according to PEJ research.

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