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ALL O.J., ALL THE TIME

A content analysis of “ABC World News Tonight,” “CBS Evening News,” and “NBC Nightly News” reveals that the savvy journalists responsible for all three newscasts have concluded that the O.J. Simpson murder trial is more than three times more important than any other news event that’s occurred during the past year.

Using their keen news judgment, and with little concern for ratings and the bottom line, those three flagship newscasts have spent more time on the Simpson story than they spent covering the war in Bosnia, turmoil in Haiti and the Oklahoma City bombing combined.

In the year since the murders, the Big Three have spent 1,592 minutes on O.J., compared to 612 minutes on Haiti, 418 minutes on Oklahoma City and 318 minutes on Bosnia, according to the Tyndall Report, which monitors the newscasts. The most O.J.-obsessed of the lot has been “NBC Nightly News,” which since the murders has spent 589 minutes on the story, followed by “CBS Evening News” with 580 minutes and “ABC World News Tonight” with 423 minutes, according to Tyndall.

It should be noted, however, that since the trial began last January, CBS has backed off a bit from O.J. mania, spending 283 minutes on the story, while NBC has stepped up its coverage, coming in at 356 minutes. ABC, as usual, has been the least O.J.-crazed, spending 229 minutes covering the trial. “ABC World News Tonight” dominates the nightly news race. Coincidence or something more?

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