Study: News is scandalous

Too much emphasis on celebrities

NEW YORK -- Americans say the media is to blame for the saturation of celebrity coverage on TV, a new survey finds.

The Pew Research Center for People & the Press said Thursday that 87% of respondents said celebrity scandals get way too much ink and airtime. Only 8% think the media gets the balance between celebrity and serious news right, while 2% told the surveyors that there wasn't enough celebrity scandal coverage.

There's been no shortage of scandals to report on in 2007, from the death of Anna Nicole Smith and the subsequent custody battle over her infant daughter to the jail saga of heiress Paris Hilton. Despite the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a presidential campaign already under way, celebrity stories oftentimes have taken over the news. Pew found that 24% of all news was devoted to Smith at the time of her death, while 12% of all Americans said in early June that Hilton's incarceration was their most-followed news story of the week.

The survey found that cable news is most to blame for the ongoing celebrity coverage, with 34% of respondents saying cable news had the most celebrity coverage, followed by network TV news (27%), Internet news sites (15%) and newspapers (8%).

None of that type of celebrity news topped last week's list of the most followed topics, Pew said. Twenty-five% of survey respondents said they were following the Iraq War most closely, though Pew noted that only 3% of news coverage was devoted to the story. The presidential campaign was singled out by 12% of respondents, while 12% of all news coverage featured it. Also on the list last week were the deaths of a Cheshire, Conn., mother and her two children in a home invasion, along with Iraq policy, the stock market and the saga of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Also receiving interest from news consumers was quarterback Michael Vick's dogfighting allegations, the continuing controversy over the home run record being chased by Giants slugger Barry Bonds and the NBA scandal over a referee who bet on games.

The survey sampled 1,027 adults from July 22-27.