The Year in the News 2011

The faltering U.S. economy was the No. 1 story in the American news media in 2011, with coverage increasing substantially from a year earlier when economic unease helped alter the political landscape in the midterm elections, according to The Year in the News 2011, a new report conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The year 2011 was also characterized by a jump of more than a third in coverage of international news, by a growing contrast in the content of the three broadcast networks and by a series of dramatic breaking news events that dominated coverage in ways unprecedented in PEJ's five years of studying news agenda.

The biggest story of the year, however, was the economy. As the recovery weakened and Washington engaged in partisan warfare over the debt ceiling, news about the state of the economy jumped to the same level of attention it had received in 2009 when newly elected president Barack Obama passed his controversial stimulus package in response to the "Great Recession." For all of 2011, the economy made up 20% of the space studied in newspapers and online and time on television and radio news, an increase of more than 40% from 14% of the newshole studied in 2010.

Read the full analysis, The Year in the News, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.