“It's Day Four of the nationwide state of emergency with no letup in sight,” declared CNN daytime anchor Don Lemon on Nov. 6 as his newscast relayed the latest details on the crackdown by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf: Police on the streets confronting protestors, roughly 3,000 lawyers jailed, and the blackout of privately run television channels.
Last week, the crisis triggered by Musharraf's Nov. 3 declaration of emergency and suspension of the constitution became a media mega-event with several crucial elements. One was the sheer drama of a strategically crucial nation teetering on the brink of chaos. The harsh crackdown by Musharraf, the U.S.'s shaky ally-by-default in the war on terror, also put frustrated American policymakers in a serious bind. And major upheaval in a country that is home to an arsenal of nuclear weapons, and reportedly Osama bin Laden as well, carries some chilling global security risks.
All that helped make the crisis in Pakistan the top story last week in the news last week, filling 17% of the newshole, as measured by PEJ's News Coverage Index from Nov. 4-9. It was the leading story in the newspaper sector (17%), online (27%), and on network TV (21%), and it finished second in cable (11%) and third in radio (8%).
Only the 2008 presidential race, which accounted for 15% of last week's coverage, came anywhere close to competing with Pakistan for media attention. After that, the third-biggest story was the situation inside Iraq (3%), followed by rising gas and oil prices (3%) and another day in court for cable's favorite celebrity defendant, O.J. Simpson (3%).
Read the full article Turmoil in Pakistan Grabs the Media's Attention on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.