Little government coverage, study finds

Bleeding’s still leading the local TV newscasts.

According to a new study from USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, an average half-hour of Los Angeles local newscasts contains just 22 seconds of local government coverage.

That includes stories about budgets, law enforcement, education, new ordinances, voting procedures, city and government actions and more, the study said. Coverage of local business and the economy, meanwhile, averaged just 29 seconds.

Carried out by the school’s Norman Lear Center, and sponsored by the Los Angeles Civic Alliance, researchers looked at all local news programs over the course of 14 days in August and September. The group also looked at the Los Angeles Times over that same two-week period.

The study found that crime stories averaged two minutes, 50 seconds in a newscast, while sports and weather took up 3:36. Human-interest stories and other “miscellaneous fluff” made up 2:26 of a newscast.

Even teasers for what’s coming next took up two minutes and 10 seconds.

“All the L.A. TV stations tell the FCC that they’re serving the public interest; these numbers decode what they actually mean by that,” said Lear Center director Martin Kaplan.

Station by station, the study found that KNBC and KCBS spent the least amount on crime, while KCOP (which is produced by sister KTTV) carried the most.

KTTV broadcast the most entertainment news and the most human-interest stories; KCAL carried the least entertainment fare. KCAL ran the most news about local government, economy and business.

As for the L.A. Times, the paper devoted 10% of its front-page space to local government and 6% to L.A. business and economy.

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