On its first day covering the Japanese tsunami, NBC spent $1.5 million--roughly the total amount spent on months covering Haiti's earthquake last year. The Wrap's Brent Lang and Dylan Stableford report that "From Japan to Libya, disasters and political upheavel around the globe are wreaking havoc on the already-skeletal budgets of cable broadcast news organizations [who] may have already spent their annual budget for covering foreign events and still have nine months to go."
Stuart Schwartz, a former producer at ABC News, told Stableford and Lang that each major news network had likely sent at least 20 employees to cover all of the foreign crises we've seen thus far in 2011. "To fly, house and feed each crew member and reporter costs roughly $35,00 for about two weeks," estimated another cable news source. It looks like all of this coverage has had an effect: a Pew Research Center study found that Japan disaster coverage not only dominated media coverage last week, but also "dominated the public's news interest." The percentage of those surveyed who were interested in news of the Japanese disaster matched the percentage of the news that focused on Japan--both 57 percent. On the otherhand, 13 percent of last week's news coverage focused on Libya but only five percent of the surveyed adults were interested in what's going on there.