STAND BY FOR NEWS . . . BUT NOT MUCH NEWS!

Local TV news viewers are the big losers in 2006 elections

Local tv newscasts devoted little time to candidates in the recent election, and we have the research that proves it.

In the 30 days leading up to the November election, the typical evening newscast on WLS-TV in Chicago included just over three minutes of election coverage, and most of that was devoted to stories about candidate strategy and polls.

Even though those numbers look low, the three other network stations in Chicago had even worse numbers.

WBBM-TV was at the bottom. The typical evening newscast on WBBM-TV had just two minutes and nine seconds of election coverage, and the average sound bite clocked in at eight seconds.

But WCIA-TV in the Springfield-Decatur-Champaign market had the dubious distinction of the least amount of election coverage in comparison to the other 35 tv stations studied in five Midwestern states.

WCIA's time spent on election coverage averaged just 78 seconds in the typical evening news broadcast. Stories about policy took a back seat to news reports on the "horse race" aspects of strategy and polling, which accounted for 73 percent of WCIA's election coverage.

Of the four stations studied in that market, WRSP-TV had the greatest amount of time attributed to election coverage. The typical WRSP newscast had 2 minutes and 36 seconds of election coverage.

ICPR Director Cindi Canary is featured now on the Illinois Channel discussing these findings and their implications for elections and government -- see her interview by going here and scrolling down.