Opioid Epidemic Gets Little Television News Attention Over Past Decade

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In the 20 years leading up to 2018, more than 450,000 Americans died from opioids, with more than 67,000 dying in 2018 alone. Despite this enormous death toll, the opioid epidemic has received comparatively little coverage on television news, with Fox News mentioning it 7,406 times in the past decade, MSNBC 4,883 times and CNN 4,745 times.

Compare that with more than 20,350 mentions of Ebola on CNN, 13,865 mentions on Fox and 12,910 mentions on MSNBC, despite the disease never spreading on American shores.

The timeline below shows the number of mentions of opioids on the three channels by week over the past decade using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive processed by the GDELT Project.

View the live version of the graph.

GDELT Project