Skipped Again: Revised 4th Quarter GDP Greeted with Network Silence

Economic growth updates continue to be minimized or ignored entirely by ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts.

When the expected revision to 2.5 percent growth during the fourth-quarter of 2017 was announced February 28, 2018, all three programs failed to inform their viewers.

CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News did have time to talk about an interview the two British royal couples did together while ABC's World News Tonight spent time reporting on the Oscars which were still days away. The royals also got more coverage than GDP in December.

The month prior, Evening News also skipped the initial read of the economic growth rate (2.6 percent), while World News Tonight and Nightly News spent a total of 30 seconds combined on the story.

Total combined coverage of GDP on announcement days in 2017 was 91 seconds or 1 minute 31 seconds (World News Tonight: 26 seconds, Nightly News: 22 seconds, Evening News: 43 seconds).

BEA announcements of economic growth have been frequently ignored by all three broadcasts. There was zero time spent on growth estimates on May 26, June 29, Aug. 30, Sept. 28, Oct. 27 and Nov. 29, 2017 — even in some cases of upward revisions to previously reported figures.

For example, Evening News covered the 2.6 percent initial estimate of Q2 growth on July 28. But did not cover the revisions in August or September, even though the final reading in September was 3.1 percent.

The networks ignored many good economic stories and downplayed others including stock market record highs, and good news about the impact of the tax cuts since Donald Trump became president.


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Julia A. Seymour's picture