SPINDEX;NEWS MEDIA LOOK INWARD FOR HIGH-PROFILE NEWS STORIES

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SPINdex always suspected the news media are an incestuous lot, but now it has the proof.

Stories involving new TV news channels and a story about the writing ethics of a leading print journalist dominated marketing-related media impressions in the SPINdex sample of influential media outlets during the two weeks leading up to this week's column.

News coverage of 24-hour news channel brands-MSNBC's debut, Fox News Channel's impending launch and Federal Trade Commission approval of Time Warner's acquisition of Turner Broadcasting contingent on the new CNN parent's cable systems carrying at least one of the rivals-were the top story of the week.

MSNBC, benefiting from its fast-breaking coverage of the TWA Flight 800 tragedy, was dominant within the news channels story. MSNBC accounted for 1,862 of the 2,457 SPINdex points generated by news channel marketing developments.

Electronic news media were particularly focused on the new electronic news outlets, allocating 89 broadcast network newscasts totaling 44.5 minutes of national airtime to the MSNBC launch. The FTC's CNN decision generated 15 network newscasts for 7.5 minutes of national airtime, contributing to a SPINdex of 417 points for that story.

The setting of an official launch date by Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes and speculation that failed syndicated TV talk show host Rush Limbaugh would join the channel, attracted six network newscasts for 3 minutes of national airtime and a paltry 178 SPINdex points.

SPINdex might consider the dominance of these events purely coincidental, if it weren't for the weight given another arguably incestuous news media story-Newsweek political columnist Joe Klein's admission that he is Anonymous, author of insiderish political satire "Primary Colors."

Klein's admission generated 494 points and ranked third for the week behind the 672 points earned by a Food & Drug Administration panel's recommendation of the marketing of the RU-486 abortion pill.

Interestingly, print coverage dominated the weight given to print journalist Klein's story, while electronic media coverage was the emphasis of the cable news brands. Overall, print media coverage contributed to 456 of "Primary's" 494 SPINdex points, while TV coverage of the cable news brands accounted for 1,390 of the topic's 2,457 points.

SPINdex now knows how to get the attention of the media elite. Peddle a story about, well, the media elite.

Joe Mandese is senior VP of Myers Reports. Mark Weiner is VP of Medialink PR Research.

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