Billionaires Featured Four Times As Often As the Poor on TV News

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

In June 2014, Frederick Reese’s Mint Press report reported on a study conducted by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)  showing that the three major broadcast newscasts – ABC World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News – featured billionaires almost four times as often as individuals affected by poverty. Poverty is an issue that affects 50 million Americans, a significantly larger number of individuals than the 482 billionaires that these newscasts covered.

The FAIR study showed that between January 2013 and February 2014 an average of only 2.7 seconds per every 22-minute episode discussed poverty in some format. ABC World News only aired three poverty-related stories, while CBS Evening News covered the most with twelve segments. Tavis Smiley, New York Times bestselling author and PBS talk show host, reported in the Huffington Post that poverty leads media coverage less than 0.02% of the time, well below the 1.2% for education, 1.4% for immigration, 4% for business, and 16% for politics.

While other countries have noticed the lack of media coverage of poverty and the positive effects that could ensue from such exposure, LexisNexis shows that as of November 3, 2014 no U.S. corporate media have addressed the disparities in the coverage of rich and poor, as identified in the independent press. Because of this lack of media coverage, viewers may not realize the scope and impact of poverty.


Frederick Reese, “Billionaires Get More Media Attention Than The Poor,” Mint Press News, June 30, 2014,

“Millions in Poverty Get Less Coverage Than 482 Billionaires,” Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, June 26, 2014,

Tavis Smiley, “Poverty Less Than .02 Percent of Lead Media Coverage,” Huffington Post, March 7, 2014,

Student Researcher: Susanne Boden (Pomona College)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Pomona College)