So, I counted the "teasers" at the start of the program (these are the lead-in comments about what the broadcast is going to cover) as well as the main stories on each of five broadcasts between January 29th and February 5th 2013. I also recorded whether these stories had to do with the US or the rest of the world.
The sampled programs averaged 4.25 "Teasers" at the top of each show. NONE of these, over the five "world news" broadcasts monitored, were stories from outside of the US. Moreover, of the main stories covered in the half hour broadcast, an average of 9.6 per night covered the US, while just 2 per broadcast covered the rest of the world. I also hasten to add here that of the "world" stories covered on Jan 29th, one was about an American surfer riding a wave in Portugal and a "world" story on Feb. 5th was about President Obama going to the Middle East. But I gave the broadcast credit for having covered them as "world events" anyway.
My conclusion is that I think ABC should consider re-naming the program----it certainly does NOT live up to it's title. It's rather like Charles Dickens writing a book called, "A Tale of Two Cities" and only covering London!
The other thing that happened during this data collection effort was that, as a function of the data gathering effort itself, I was paying more attention to the coverage than I normally do. That is, my normal mode is to tune out if the newscaster is not covering something of interest to me (usually the military, politics, foreign affairs or sports). But this time around I was listening to everything that was being said and was struck by the amount of absolute drivel to which the audience is subjected. Indeed, if ABC's "World News with Dianne Sawyer" is any indicator, the entire set of Network (ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) evening news offerings that should be "hard news" broadcasts have turned into video combinations of "People Magazine" and "TV Guide". They are full of what I suppose are still called "human interest" stories along with heartwarming sagas about puppies and/or kittens finding their way home after a natural disaster or some such traumatic event. The story is usually accompanied, in the case of Dianne Sawyer, by a warm smile dripping sweetness or a knitted brow of concern depending upon how badly battered the pets were when they arrived home. The point is these are not the kinds of things I think should be covered in NEWS broadcasts----leave these stories to the news magazines like "20/20", "Nightline", "Dateline" and afternoon talk shows---God knows there are enough of them. To wit: "The View", "The Chew", "Katie" et al.
This brings me to the topic of newscasters themselves. I have to admit here that since most of my TV news watching is limited to the ABC channel because that is where one finds "World News with Dianne Sawyer" and, on Sunday morning, "This Week with George Stephanopolis". I'll have to make a resolution to check the other networks more closely so that I can more authoritatively critique them. But, for now, all you get is my take on ABC and a little on FOX News Channel (FNC), about which more later.
I have to say that Dianne Sawyer is OK as a presenter, but her constant "frown of concern" drives me crazy. Katrina vanden Heuvel, who occasionally appears as a round table member along with George Will and others on "This Week" affects me the same way. She is just sooooo intense! I think Jake Tapper has his head screwed on straight and is an excellent occasional fill-in for George Stephenopolis on "This Week"----much better than Martha Raddatz, who loses control of the round table discussion and allows participants to talk over each other to the point that the audience can't fathom what either is saying.
Over on FOX, I think that Chis Wallace is the best of the bunch and far better than his late father, Mike (whose passing was much commented upon and lamented over at CBS), and who was the Bill O'Reilly of his day. That is, more interested in stirring up controversy than in actually discussing the issue. I watched Mike Wallace when I was a kid and even when he was interviewing someone like Frank Lloyd Wright, you could tell he was trying to get the man to say something controversial so he (Wallace) could pounce on it and make it sensational. O'Reilly is similar in the sense that he invites people on so that he can argue with them, which is OK, but he does so without ever giving them an uninterrupted opportunity to make their points. The key word here is UNINTERRUPTED. He even talks over people who AGREE with him because, I think, his desire to pontificate more than outweighs his interest in anything anyone else has to say. Mr. O'Reilly frequently refers to himself as "Your humble correspondent". He is surely many things, but "humble" is NOT one of them. The man's ego boggles the mind.
I'll give you another installment of this topic after I have had a chance to do some more research on the other networks and decide if their newscasters are worth your time.