ABC: Star Wars Day Gets 6X Coverage of Lowest Unemployment Since 2000

The force might have been with ABC on May 4, but interest in the U.S. labor market certainly wasn’t.

That night World News Tonight with David Muir spent a meager 15 seconds announcing the April jobs report which showed the lowest unemployment rate since 2000. That 3.9 percent was what other journalists called a “wow number” that could even help re-elect President Donald Trump.

But there was not much “wow” from ABC over job numbers that also added 164,000 new jobs and included an adjustment of 30,000 jobs to previous months. 

Instead of delivering a story on the labor market to flesh out those numbers, World News spent more than 6 times as long talking about Star Wars Day and interviewing people in Alabama who are building a life-size Millennium Falcon cockpit (1 minute 38 seconds). Anchor David Muir made sure to note that ABC’s parent company Disney started selling tickets that day for its upcoming movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Journalism.

By contrast, CBS Evening News brought on its business analyst Jill Schlesinger to further break down the jobs data. Schlesinger noted that the unemployment rate “... edged down to 3.9 percent which is the lowest since 2000, which is amazing!”

That report and discussion lasted 1 minute 46 seconds. NBC Nightly News delivered the jobs data, then turned to NBC business correspondent Jo Ling Kent for a story about how the “booming economy” and tight labor market has led to cities around the country incentivizing young talent to move and work in their cities. Together, Nightly News spent 1 minute 58 seconds on jobs during the broadcast.

Meanwhile, Spanish-language television giants Univision and Telemundo both featured more than two-minute reports on the latest strong U.S. labor market data. Both networks focused on the fact that unemployment among Hispanics dipped to 4.8%, the lowest ever among the population segment.

Since the release of the January 2017 jobs report, World News devoted the least amount of time coverage jobs of the three evening news broadcasts with 5 minutes and 3 seconds total. Evening News spent 12 minutes 56 seconds. Nightly News spent 11 minutes 42 seconds on jobs on those nights. Both of those are more than twice the ABC total.

Methodology: MRC Business has been tracking the amount of time spent on jobs or employment news on the Friday of each month that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics announces the latest data between Feb. 3, 2017, (the January 2017 jobs report) through May 4, 2018, (April 2018 jobs report). This time tally only reflects the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news broadcasts on those specific nights.


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Economy Unemployment
Julia A. Seymour's picture