The timeline below shows the total number of daily mentions of Covid-19 vaccination on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News since the start of 2020 using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive. With the November 2020 announcement of the success of Pfizer’s vaccine, mentions skyrocketed, but dropped off a cliff at the end of December as attention shifted to the coming presidential election certification and transfer of power and then the January 6, 2021 storming of the capitol. In contrast, online news coverage of the vaccines increased at the same time and rate, but never decreased.
The reason for this is that television news has a fixed airtime of 24 hours a day, meaning that a breaking story like the capitol storming must replace previously scheduled coverage. The more coverage of the capitol storming, the less coverage of Covid-19 vaccines. Online news outlets, on the other hand, have infinite space, meaning they could run 24/7 coverage of the capitol storming on top of all of their Covid-19 coverage. Thus, television news represents careful curation of daily events, whereas online media is a firehose of everything.